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Sustainable energy transition needs cooperation

Political and economic collaboration will be essential in the quest for a cleaner, sustainable energy future

Successfully navigating the transition to a cleaner, sustainable energy future will require regional/global cooperation on an unprecedented scale, energy leaders told the World Energy Congress yesterday.

"I don't know any energy transition that can be done in a decade. It's also a matter of cooperation," Doris Leuthard, head of the German government's department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, said. "No country on its own can solve this and drive the world in the right direction."

Balancing the Energy Trilemma-a term coined by the World Energy Council referring to the balancing act between security, equity, and environmental sustainability-will require a swift and smooth transition to a lower carbon energy system.

Global demand for electricity will double between now and 2060, according to WEC. Meeting this demand with cleaner energy sources will require substantial infrastructure investments and systems integration to deliver benefits to all consumers

This is especially true for developing countries, struggling to connect large parts of the population to their power grids.

Last year, 95 countries adopted an agreement, which for the first time was legally binding, to curb carbon emissions.

The deal agreed at COP21 stated that countries would take measures to limit temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius. The agreement is due to come into force in 2020.

However, a new study released by the WEC suggests that despite a larger uptake in renewable power the world's carbon budget will be exceeded within the next 30 to 40 years.

François Austin, Global Energy Practice Leader, Oliver Wyman, says fossil fuel producers must prepare to adapt to a lower carbon world.

"It's critical that those fossil fuel players are involved. They're going to have to change their business models, financially and operationally," Austin said. "It's an industry that hasn't managed adaptation well but those organisations are also transitioning themselves."

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