Year-end message 2018 for the World Energy Council

As we approach 2018’s year-end, I want to capture some of our activities over the past months and summarise what has been achieved. Most importantly, I would like to use this opportunity to thank you personally for all your highly appreciated involvement and support in the Council’s activities.

For the global energy leadership community, 2018 has been another fast-paced year with continued focus on the grand energy transition. On the climate front, the tone was set by IPPC calling to shift from a 2-degree Celsius target to a 1.5-degree target in a context where a more tense geo and global trade politics have turned against acceleration of top-down progress. On the oil side, we have seen volatility increase again, partially driven by the same heightened tension of geopolitics. This, after a window of OPEC + Russia led relative price stability.

The power sector focus is split between new opportunities arising from demand electrification, efficiency gains from network and system digitalisation, pressure to control costs in an aging infrastructure context and, competition arising from a fight for the customer by new market entrants. New business models enabled by platforms and blockchains are capturing energy leaders’ imagination, while solar PV and electric storage prices have continued their fall – below 3 c/kWh in front-running projects in Mexico and Saudi Arabia – and while ambition on the e-mobility side is continuing to grow. The energy access agenda is moving, with every year another 50 million people gaining access, thanks to different electrification efforts.

Meanwhile, Japan’s hydrogen liquids vision acts as a catalyst and countries ranging from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, to Saudi Arabia and Morocco are starting to explore their own opportunities in this space. At our Milan Summit there was a call for ending ‘the cold war between the electron and the molecule’ in decarbonising the future of energy. On the resilience front, forest fires in Australia and California, icing in Canada or hurricanes and flooding in many parts of the world illustrate the new need for evolving resilience requirements.

For the Council it has been an intense and productive year. We continued the expansion of our global network, finalised our major strategy review and successfully implemented the new structure of our organisation. I am delighted to have an internationally diverse and top-notch London team bringing new skills and commitment to our mission. In 2019, we aim to continue bringing greater coherence and impact to our activities placing the World Energy Council at the heart of the energy transition.

I would like to thank all our members who could participate in 2018 World Energy Week in Milan last October. A special thank you goes to the Italian Member Committee for hosting and organising such a successful event. We had over 350 delegates from all over the world and representation of almost 40 member committees. We also had over 60 FEL participants, including several from Italy, who ran a highly engaging FEL Summit during the week.

During World Energy Week, we launched the 2018 Trilemma Index Report with the support of our Project Partner, Oliver Wyman. We also saw the launch of our second Blockchain Insights Brief and the Anthology of Interviews. Many thanks to our partner PwC for sponsoring and collaborating on the ongoing blockchain study. Also, in Milan, we presented a draft of a new Energy Transition Toolkit Users Guide. The Toolkit is being developed for our global energy community and wider stakeholders to improve our tools utilisation, increase mission impact and help enable and facilitate a successful energy transition.

In November, and complimentary to our Blockchain briefs, we delivered our first Innovation Forum in London, which was hosted by Shell. The Forum explored the viability and challenges of blockchain through the lens of creators, regulators and those in between and was attended by leadership of Member Committees from Europe. The Innovation Forum platform was well received and could possibly be used in your regions to engage stakeholders, recruit new members and broaden our global network. Our Insights Innovation team is now working on new themes including Quality Access, Power-to-X, Storage Pathways and the New Hydrogen Economy.

At the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in April, we launched the 2018 Issues Monitor Brief highlighting key critical issues and uncertainties of the Energy Transition. We also launched a new Issues Monitor interactive online application, developed in collaboration with our Project Supporter ARUP, and which has engaged over twenty thousand unique visitors. I would like to thank all our members for the very high level of participation in the preparations for next year’s Issues Monitor survey. We are making good progress, with an impressive 2200 survey responses received!

My special thanks to our Argentinian Member Committee, CACME, who did a great job organising our World Energy Leaders’ Summit in San Carlos de Bariloche in June. We were fortunate to have ministerial level participants in our discussion from no fewer than six countries across the Americas – Argentina, Chile, Canada, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay – as well as significant representation from commercial organisations across the world.

I was delighted and pleased to see the P2X/Hydrogen report produced by our German Member Committee, in collaboration with Frontier Economics. Hydrogen has been identified as a huge opportunity for Australia, where in October, I paid my first week-long visit, meeting with government ministers and leading business figures to discuss critical issues impacting the energy sector. The report found increased interest not only in Australia, but also in Japan, New Zealand, Germany, UK and a few other countries for the development of the hydrogen economy. We actively support and appreciate new case studies and projects in context of energy innovation.

I am excited by the success and growth of our partnership with dena, the German Energy Agency, collaborating on the Start-up Transition 100 Awards innovation platform (SET-100). We have actively engaged several governments across the world and I am happy to welcome Sweden as our newest country partner. It is clear, that energy innovation is high on the agenda across the globe. Thank you to all Member Committees who helped spread the word about the 2018 Start-up Energy Transition Award within your communities. There really was a great response with over 400 applicants and some excellent projects and businesses representing all aspects of the energy innovation world. Our FELs and Member Committee colleagues were invaluable in helping us develop the top 100 list, with your reading and jury input. We launched SET100 2019 during the World Energy Week in Milan. The deadline for applications is January 31st, 2019. I encourage all of you to continue your valuable support of this fascinating project and in helping generate an increased response by nominating participants from your regions.

This year we have delivered several new Scenarios planning workshops with an innovation twist, including Europe and the Middle East. The Abu-Dhabi workshop took place on 30-31 October and was hosted by the UAE Member Committee with the generous support of the UAE Ministry of Energy and Industry. More than 40 experts from four GCC countries gathered to exchange strategic knowledge. Three regional narratives were developed which are aligned with the Council’s global probability scenarios framework – Unfinished Symphony, Hard Rock and Modern Jazz. I would like to thank our Project Partners, Accenture Strategy and PSI, for their continued collaboration and commitment to our Scenarios work.

In partnership and close collaboration with the Congress Organising Committee we are making good progress on preparations for the 2019 World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi. To date, over 100 top level speakers have been confirmed, including key energy Ministers, top CEOs and Heads of International Organisations from over 35 countries. The four-day programme is being developed to reflect transition dynamics and geopolitical climate we are witnessing, including sessions on the innovation ecosystem, blockchain, and the developing role of hydrogen. We welcome your continued input and collaboration.

Our digital transformation continues and has made significant progress with approval of the 18-month Digital Platforms plan, launch of a new Collaboration and Communications tools pilot, a significant increase in social media engagement and media outreach and the initiation of a new CRM platform, putting audiences, members, stakeholders and data at the centre of our organisation.

I also would like to welcome two new developments. Firstly, we have secondees joining us in our London office from our Member Committees in Mexico and Lebanon to engage with us in developing our Insights activity; this will provide an invaluable opportunity to help deepen and share learning with our Member Committees. Secondly, in the summer this year, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) to strengthen activity, drive regional energy integration and enhance sustainable energy access in the 21 COMESA states.

In closing, I would like to thank everyone who have continued to contribute and who have given support on all the important work. I look forward to your involvement as we move forward to 2019.

Please note the office will be closed from 5pm 24 December and will reopen on 2 January 2019.

I wish you a wonderful festive season and very Happy New Year 2019!

Christoph Frei, Secretary General, World Energy Council