Perspectives was first launched on 1 July 2020 – the day we commenced operations as a joint venture – a business which has sustainability at its heart and has based its purpose on powering good for a sustainable energy future. Perspectives is a place for openly exchanging views on how we can accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral energy system, making it more sustainable, resilient, secure and safe.
It goes without saying that this past year has been highly demanding for everyone. Yet, as we start to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe that there are reasons to be optimistic – more so than ever before. The energy transition remains one of the most important challenges of our times and now, in 2021, the level of urgency has significantly stepped up – amongst consumers, governments and industry.
We need the right policies and regulatory framework backed by appropriate investments and suitable business models. This is key to create, adopt and adapt policies as well as regulations to be able to deploy that technology – secure, scalable, and sustainable infrastructure.
As a society, there’s growing evidence to suggest that the pandemic has made people more environmentally-conscious. In a recent Mastercard1 global research study exploring the topic of consumer passion for the environment, 65% of participants admitted that it's more important than before that companies behave in more sustainable and eco-friendly ways; and 85% stated that they are willing to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability issues in 2021. The pandemic continues to shift consumption and lifestyle behaviors across the globe. In parallel, governments have made commitments to new and ambitious targets relating to reducing carbon emissions.
According to the IEA’s ‘Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector’ flagship report2, ‘the path to net zero emissions is narrow’ and staying on it requires increased investment in infrastructure, and specifically, an ‘immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies.’ By 2030, the world economy is expected to be some 40 percent larger but consuming seven percent less energy to be on track for net zero in 2050. By this time ‘the energy sector will be dominated by renewables’ and ‘electricity will account for almost 50 percent of the total global energy consumption’ – up from about 20 percent today.
There is no doubt that we need to boost the investment in the infrastructure to enhance capacity, resilience, flexibility, efficiency, and reliability. We also need to accelerate technology development and deploy it at scale and with speed. Now is the time for the green economic recovery to deliver upon the promise. Every effort is needed from everyone across every part of our planet.
As a business, we can and are making a purposeful contribution to sustainable society. Earlier this year, we released Sustainability 2030 – the name of our own strategic plan for sustainability. Here, we summarize the main commitments that we are making to act and drive business in a sustainable way. Based around four pillars: Planet, People, Peace and Partnerships, our strategy draws from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where each pillar has corresponding targets that drive our business to contribute social value, environmental value and economic value.
In the First Edition of Perspectives, I touched on the fact that the 2020’s will go down in history, as a time of great crisis – and a time of human invention, innovation and societal progress. I still believe that this is very much true. I am immensely proud of our diverse team of 36,000 talented people based in more than 90 countries, who in spite of the pandemic, have continued to deliver great projects and co-create pioneering new technologies – all whilst socially distanced from one another.
Together, with customers and partners, we have throughout this pandemic continued to collaborate to deliver landmark projects and launch new solutions which are contributing to our sustainable energy future. Building sustainable partnerships is fundamental to the acceleration of the transition and in turn, supporting UN SDG 17.
Just one of the many exciting sustainable energy projects that we have been privileged to contribute to includes the energization of NordLink – a 623-km long HVDC electricity interconnection that, for the first time, links German and Norwegian power markets. The increased integration of renewables from both countries, in combination with the usage of pioneering technology, supports the green energy transition. And in this Edition, Håkon Borgen of Statnett and Tim Meyerjürgens of TenneT share their thoughts on the project, which gives a glimpse in to the future carbon-neutral energy system – one which will be highly interconnected.
Achieving carbon-neutrality globally by 2050 requires every effort from everyone and in all aspects. An inclusive approach is key to achieving this common goal along with the recognition that there are different pathways that lead to the destination.
The Oil and Gas industry has an enormous role to play in speeding up the energy transition. Over the decades it has accumulated the necessary scale, financial muscle, ability to manage risk and deep expertise in delivering complex infrastructure projects in challenging environments. Within its DNA, it has also developed immense resilience and the ability to adapt and reinvent. Right now, the world needs the Oil and Gas sector to take hold of this energy transition and actively lead it from the front to drive the shift at the pace required to accelerate our sustainable energy future. I am convinced that in the next couple of years we will see some bold moves as the industry reshapes itself to seize the new opportunities and become the springboard for change.
In this Edition of Perspectives, we take a closer look at some of the exciting projects, developments and concepts that are all needed to speed up this next critical chapter. Shared ingredients include close team-working spirit and an environment fit for innovation – all united by a common purpose.
The final article is a thought-provoking contribution from Gerard Reid of Alexa Capital who rounds off this Edition with a view on how to mobilize finance for the green energy transition. In his conclusion, Gerard sets out three things to address the question: ‘What needs to be done to accelerate the path towards carbon-neutrality and ensure access to low cost capital?’
I would like to personally thank industry colleagues, for their insightful and thought-provoking contributions to this Second Edition of Perspectives, including:
Chris Peeters of Elia Group and Elia Transmission, Stefan Kapferer of 50Hertz (Elia Group), Tim Meyerjürgens of TenneT, Håkon Borgen of Statnett, Rajnish Sharma of Equinor, Tan Chee Hau of Smart Nation and Digital Government Office in Singapore, and Gerard Reid of Alexa Capital.
I would also like to thank the members of my team who have further complemented these customer and partner Perspectives with their own forward-looking contributions.
Together, we are on one journey towards a sustainable energy future.
I hope that you enjoy this Second Edition of Perspectives.