Survey: Renewable Energy Ranks as One of the Most Disruptive Forces in Global Energy

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Renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes are top priorities for energy executives around the world, as the world presses ahead with efforts to decarbonise energy systems, according to the latest World Energy Issues Monitor from the World Energy Council (WEC).

Published today by the WEC, the World Energy Issues Monitor each year surveys more than 1,200 energy leaders in 95 countries to take the pulse of the energy industry on a range of topics, from clean energy to cyber threats.

Commodity prices dominated as the issue causing the most uncertainty across the industry. However, the report also reveals growing engagement with a raft of clean technology and environmental issues.

When the monitor began surveying in 2010, the key issues on the agenda of energy industry leaders were energy price uncertainty, the financial crisis, and the lack of a global climate policy framework, while action was focused on enabling the growth of energy use in China and India and promoting energy efficiency.

Seven years on, there is a marked shift in focus with renewable energy deployment to the fore as a key action area, flanked by energy efficiency and economic growth.

Uncertainty surrounding climate frameworks has dipped as a concern thanks to the Paris Agreement of 2015, while system change including digitisation and decentralised have risen up the uncertainty agenda.

The report also highlights how the future pace of development in the electricity storage sector is now a top concern for the industry.

“Our survey shows that energy leaders face and acknowledge disruptive change,” said Christoph Frei, secretary general of the WEC, in a statement. “The Issues Monitor illustrates that innovation issues such as digitalisation, decentralisation, innovative market design or electric storage rapidly gain traction, while a more difficult growth context and new physical and digital risks are posing ever greater threats to the energy sector. Today defining the energy agenda globally, five years ago these issues were far from being a priority.”

Brexit is set to add another layer of uncertainty in the UK, the WEC highlighted, with uncertainity around European Investment Bank funding, the UK’s membership with the Energy Union, and the future of regulations such as EU State Aid rules all threatening to impact investment levels in the sector.

“Political and regularity uncertainty including Brexit is making market design unpredictable and are barriers to sustained investments needed to transform and update energy infrastructure in the UK, which has been estimated as being £215bn by 2030,” Francois Austin, a UK member of the WEC and a partner at management consultancy Oliver Wyman, commented.