The future of energy after COVID-19: World Energy Council discusses key avenues for development
The ‘COVID-19: Accelerating a Better Energy Future for All’ online conference took place on 17 June, marking the launch of the Road to Congress 2022 online event series. Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Alexander Novak and Secretary General and CEO of the World Energy Council Angela Wilkinson were joined by leading experts in the energy sector to discuss their vision of the transition to a ‘new normal’ after the crisis. The conference was organized by the Roscongress Foundation and the World Energy Council with the support of the Global Energy Association and Rosseti.
Whether in terms of falling energy demand, low oil prices, delays in payments, reduced capital spending or, at the same time, improved environmental conditions, COVID-19 has become a significant stressor for the global energy sector, its consequences still uncertain. The possible scenarios for the flexible adaptation of the sector to a new, post-crisis ‘normal’ formed the main topic of discussion at the online conference.
Director General of Rosseti Pavel Livinsky, Managing Director and Global Head of Commodity Strategy, Global Research at RBC Capital Markets Helima Croft, and Member of the Management Board of E.ON and CEO of Innogy Leonhard Birnbaum participated in the discussion alongside Alexander Novak and Angela Wilkinson. President of the Global Energy Association Sergey Brilev moderated the event.
Even though the crisis is not over yet, we can already come to certain conclusions. Global economy faced an unprecedented shock, unpredictable market behaviour, changes to the very fabric of everyday life. With main economic indices going down by 5%, the energy industry was bound to feel the effect. In April we saw the demand for oil products decrease by 28–30%. However, the industry stayed intact. Production of electricity, high-quality oil products, coal – nothing was interrupted,” said Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Alexander Novak.
Minister also noted that the future structure of the energy industry is bound to change, thus the current forecasts will have to be changed accordingly. For instance, the share of hydrocarbon energy was expected to go down to 75% by 2040 from the current 85%. Yet now it is clear that this rate will be lower. According to Alexander Novak, an implosion in IT, digital systems and cloud technologies is imminent and it will without a doubt impact the energy industry.
The key issues the speakers focused on during the ‘COVID-19: Accelerating a Better Energy Future for All’ online conference included the system’s ability to respond to crises of this kind, the possibility of achieving energy balance, the cost of producing traditional and renewable energy, and the centralization of energy networks.
“We are soon going to witness the largest-scale redistribution of global capital in history, and making the right investment decisions is more important than ever before. The global energy community needs guidance, and the solution can be found in the exchange of best practices and study of potential future scenarios. The World Energy Congress offers a unique platform for this, bringing together representatives of the energy community alongside new players and new users of a consumer-oriented energy system,” said CEO of the World Energy Council Dr Angela Wilkinson.
“The whole situation with COVID-19 has once again confirmed that fast-tracking the introduction of new technologies into all kinds of industries, from retail to electric power, is the only way forward. It is largely thanks to the fact that digital transformation has been one of Rosseti’s priority objectives in recent years that the Russian power network has shown great resilience in the face of challenges during the pandemic,” said Director General and Chairman of the Management Board of Rosseti Pavel Livinsky.
The event took place with media support from the Russia-24 and Bloomberg TV channels and Energy Policy magazine.