World Energy Council unveils 2017 Issues Monitor report in Washington

Posted on 27 April 2017

The World Energy Council’s new 2017 Issues Monitor reveals that uncertainty over commodity prices is one of the top issues among global energy leaders in all regions, especially in developing countries and emerging economies.

At a briefing in Washington at the US Energy Association (USEA), the US member committee of the Council, Secretary General, Dr Christoph Frei, unveiled the survey results and commented: “Our survey shows that energy leaders face and acknowledge disruptive change. The Issues Monitor illustrates that innovation issues such as digitalisation, decentralisation, innovative market design, and things like electric storage are gaining traction and attention of executives.

“Five years ago these issues were far from being a priority. Digitisation is another issue keeping many energy leaders awake at night in many industrialised countries around the world. The need to understand the new business models that are driven by big data intelligence, prosumer solutions, energy blockchains is probably the most exciting issue with as many visionary implications as practical unknowns on the desks of energy leaders.”

The 2017 report assesses the degree of impact and uncertainty around more than 40 key issues in the energy sector in four categories: Macroeconomic risks, Geopolitics and Regional Issues, Business Environment, and Energy Innovation and Technologies.

The survey showed that executives were also concerned about the impact of commodity price volatility on investment decisions, including in oil production, with heightened awareness of influence of “peak demand” and “stranded resource” concepts. Energy leaders are increasingly viewing the development of disruptive technologies as key to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency goals.

Renewables ranked high in impact within every region identified in the survey. Solar technology and installation saw immense growth in installed capacity, reaching 227 gigawatts by the end of 2015, while global wind power generation capacity increased at a rate of 17.2 percent in 2015.

In North America, the recent election of President Trump created uncertainty among global leaders about the direction of U.S. energy policy, particularly in the areas carbon policy, energy efficiency and renewable energy development.

Other highlights from the 2017 Issues Monitor Report:

  • A shift in economic growth– Slower global growth puts greater uncertainty around primary energy demand
  • Shifts in geopolitical power– There’s been a renewed focus on US policy, Brexit and uncertainty over EU cohesion
  • New physical and virtual risks– Cyberattacks are posing ever greater threats to the energy sector
  • Talent acquisition and retention—Staffing will become a major focus as new technologies continue to reshape the energy industry

“It’s clear that global energy resource management is as important now as it ever was. We need an all-of-the-above approach to our energy policy, and our government leaders should rely on industry to help develop that policy based on their knowledge of changing dynamics and the reality of resource availability and reliability,” said Barry Worthington, USEA’s executive director.

“What the Council has discovered through the survey certainly comports with what we are seeing and hearing and experiencing in the United States. Energy policy going forward should advance policy parity and not exclude any form of energy. We need it all.”

The World Energy Issues Monitor reflects the views of more than 1,200 senior energy company executives and policymakers in more than 90 countries, and it provides critical intelligence for project developers and policymakers.