Message from Dr Angela Wilkinson

17th December 2019

News ArticlePress & Media

Dear Members, Partners, Colleagues and Friends,

It has been a year of significant changes - the energy sector and the World Energy Council are entering a new era!  It is important we take a moment to reflect on the key highlights of 2019, which included a successful Congress, a regular series of insightful publications, active engagement of partners and members in nearly 90 countries, a redesigned website and further improvement in our unique energy transition leadership toolkit.

Celebrating Our Successes

World Energy Congress

The 24th World Energy Congress was a resounding success and gathered more than 15,000 participants from around the world in Abu Dhabi in September. We hosted heads of state, over 70 ministers, almost 200 Future Energy Leaders and start up energy transition award winners. Over 350 speakers from over 80 countries engaged in dialogue on new energy developments, the state of global system transition and priorities for action. There were nearly 70 programme sessions over four days of the Congress and we circulated a summary of post-Congress reflections gathered from across our community last month.

The Council’s Insights Briefs and Publications

The Council released 12 new publications in 2019. Building on our ground-breaking benchmarking study of global scenarios in 2018, we released four new World Energy Scenario-related publications. These are focussed on (1) new turning points in global innovation pathways to 2040, (2) the outlook for nuclear power, (3) European regional scenarios, and (4) Constellations of Disruption – a new framework for managing ‘disruption-as-normal’ dynamics.

For the very first time, the 2019 World Energy Trilemma Index showcased the value-added benefits of being able to track year-on-year national policy performance and included new policy learning enabled by comparing leaders on each element of the trilemma – energy security, energy equity and affordability and broader environmental sustainability – as well as the overall rankings.

Innovation Insights Briefs included – Blockchain v2, Energy Infrastructure, Hydrogen and rethinking the basic access challenge to meet new demand for productive uses of energy. Dynamic Resilience reports covered extreme weather, cyber security and introduced the Council’s new resilience management framework. The World Energy Council Transition Toolkit User Guide was also published.

Expanding Our Global Member Network

I would like to extend a warm welcome to our newest member committee, Malta, as well as the corporate partners who joined in 2019: Axpo Group, Akselos, California ISO, the European Distribution System Operators (EDSO) and the European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E).

Changing of the Guard

We also underwent a change in leadership. Mr Jean-Marie Dauger succeeded Chair David Kim and, following an open market competition, I was successful in my ambition to become Secretary General.  As we say farewell to both Chair Kim and Christoph Frei, I am sure we would like to thank them both for their efforts to modernise, grow and reposition the World Energy Council.

I also offer my sincere thanks to the honourable volunteers – Officers, Executive Chairs, Standing Committee members and working group experts - who shape and deliver our ambitious programme of work aimed at progressing a better energy future for all.

Looking to 2020 and a New and Different Energy Future

It is impossible to predict what will happen with any precision in the year to come, but through the efforts of our collaborative and innovation work programmes, we can anticipate and prepare for new directions of change:

A Climate of Concern. The withdrawal of some States from their Paris Agreement commitments contrasts with the rise of a global climate youth movement. Global greenhouse gas emissions have again started to rise and the rapid scale up of ever cheaper renewables is raising questions about whole system transition costs, grid reliability and societal acceptability.  Our whole systems approach and neutral position of all technologies and innovation is more relevant than ever. Managing an orderly and just global energy transition is a connected challenge, not a single-issue problem. Enabling faster, deeper and affordable decarbonisation and new livelihoods will involve the development of multiple and new global energy pathways for clean heat, clean power and hydrogen-based fuels. We will need to broaden our community reach beyond the energy sector to invest and progress smart systems integration and sector coupling strategies. As the world’s only truly global and neutral “how to” energy platform, it is also time to open space for a sensible conversation about extreme events and climate adaptation?

Beyond a Billion Lightbulbs to Billions of New Livelihoods. There has been remarkable progress in closing the global gap in basic energy access. Even so, nearly a billion people worldwide still lack access to electricity and many more need energy-enabled work and jobs. Productive energy access - energy for billions of new livelihoods - is rising up the agenda. The future of work and jobs and implications for energy are shaped by wider developments in manufacturing and trade. The energy implications of the new livelihoods agenda are also important in addressing the growing energy-related skills and capabilities gaps in different countries. And can we really address the lack of investment if we don’t first enhance the bandwidth for effective actions?

Enabling Dynamic Resilience in Energy Transition. The Dynamic Resilience framework aims to support energy leaders in better preparing for new energy shocks associated with systems risks of global environmental changes - water stress, climate change - and technology developments, e.g. cyber security threats. The search is on for ways to design, build and operate for agility and flexibility and adapt existing energy systems to new and different future conditions. Rethinking energy security in terms of whole systems resilience includes exploring the emerging opportunities and threats of systems and/or regional integration as the energy sector enters a new era.

The Hydrogen Society. Earlier this year, the Council launched a new type of bias to action initiative. It is called Hydrogen Global and is a “how to” platform for companies, governments and communities to commit to creating demand for clean and affordable hydrogen-based fuels. The aim is not to achieve a 100% hydrogen but to facilitate the role of clean hydrogen: as an enabler of renewables at scale; a seasonal storage gamechanger; as a way to manage risks of pace of stranded assets e.g. repurposing; and, as a driver of affordable and deeper decarbonisation of hard to reach electrified energy end-uses e.g. space heating, freight transport, and industrial energy use.

An Energy-Plus Community and Customer Centric Energy Future. The energy sector is entering a new era and a period characterised by the push of new demand-side developments in industry, transport and other sectors. We are responding by reaching out to convene the ‘energy-plus’ community which engages energy transition leaders along the entire value chain, within and beyond the energy sector, and across the public, private and civic spheres. We are working on cross-sectoral initiatives to prepare for the shift to customer-centric services,

I am honoured by the opportunity to lead the Council at a pivotal moment; societies everywhere search for new ways to flourish by managing orderly energy transition for better lives and a healthy planet.  Energy matters and all parts of the energy sector have a role to play. I believe the Council can form the missing link – becoming THE global ‘how to’ platform for managing orderly energy transitions which balance the need for energy security and reliability, energy equity and affordability and the broader environmental sustainability agenda. We are not a think tank or a talk shop. By working together, our members can progress orderly energy transition and ensure the flows of clean heat, clean power and clean fuels which are needed to realise new visions for human-centric progress in a new era of energy developments.

Using this opportunity, I wish you a wonderful festive season and very happy New Year! I look forward to continuing productive cooperation in 2020!

Angela Wilkinson
Secretary General & CEO
World Energy Council 

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