Energy leaders: New thinking, more participation needed for tomorrow’s challenges

Posted on 17 October 2013

The world needs to revamp much of its thinking to meet the energy challenges of the 21st century, industry experts said on 17 October at the closing plenary session of the World Energy Congress.

From fostering new energy sources to structuring the best mix of public and private incentives to curb carbon emissions, the discussion session attempted to draw lessons from the four days of meetings among more than 260 global energy leaders.

“The need to include new players at the heart of the international system is very clear,” said Ged Davis, CEO of Forescene SA, a Swiss-based energy consultancy. “This is no longer a world where government and energy industries control things – we’re moving into an open source governance world,” he said, adding there would be increasing instances of tension between national sovereignty and the need for international cooperation. David added that the tremendous strides in world population and GDP growth afforded by the fossil fuels revolution of the previous century were unlikely to be repeated in the 21st century, but that the world would likely turn its attention to pressing environmental issues.

Leena Srivastava, Honorary Executive Director of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in India, urged the global industry to look at the developing world in a holistic and inclusive way.  “Energy in its wider context can bring about huge changes on the social side as well as the environmental side,” she said. “A lot of what we need in the developing world has yet to take place – but it requires us to think outside of our comfort zone.” Srivastava pointed to microfinance programs and the soaring demand for mobile phones, along with the energy innovations required to charge them, as trends that arose in the developing world but are of global relevance.

Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), called for government to play a strong role in fostering energy changes. “We need to ensure that government can take the lead – the benefits take time, so the government needs to take over,” he said. He stressed the need for policies that ensure all countries can use renewable energy from the beginning of planning their energy mix. At the same time, “we cannot pick and choose which one of the new sources will win or lose.”


This news story is based on the Closing session, “Today’s energy: Are we at a tipping point? – Redefining Resilience”, at the 2013 World Energy Congress.