One of the key findings of the recent "Future of Energy" YES-Europe analytical project concerns the influence of global economics and political power shift in the future of energy. Young energy progessionals and students ave voices their opinion: Global eonomics and political power shift will not play a big role in shaping the future of energy (See figure befow).
The choice is ours
The first example that comes in mind to prove that global economics and political power will not impact tremendously the future of energy is the US Trump administration’s retreat from the Paris agreement. After the official announcement of their decision, cities across the US stood up and pledged to honor the Paris agreement despite the federal choice.
This and the success of the COP21 has been achieved thanks to the unity people, cities and countries showed when faced with a common problem. However, it is important to note that the success of the COP21 lied on the freedom of each participant to determine their own goal. It was a lesson learned from the Copenhagen Summit of 2009, where goals were laid out for countries by other countries. In 2015, countries came together and chose to tackle climate change by themselves.
The choice is clear
The success of the COP21 can also be associated with the change in renewable economics. By 2015, the energy market has changed remarkably compared to the previous summit in 2009. In fact, energy companies know that their survival depends on how fast they adapt and embrace the new technologies.
For instance, the british oil and gas company BP recognizes the fast growth experienced by the solar industry. According to their estimation, 10% of total global power will come from solar energy by 2035. This led to the acquisition of 43% of equity share in Lightsource, Europe’s largest solar development company. Last year, Enel, an Italian energy producer and distributor, also made a strategic acquisition by buying Enernoc, the biggest US demand-response (DR) provider. This enables Enel to propose DR services in 30 countries, to 63 millions customers. Likewise, The French oil and gas company Total understands the importance of consumers choice and role in the energy transition. This is reflected by their recent acquisition of Direct Energie, the third largest energy provider in France.
Choosing to work together
Even though young energy professionals place less emphasis on the political power shift impacting on the future of energy, there is no doubt that a national policy supporting new technologies is helpful and one that undermine them is indeed harmful. The tariffs imposed on imported solar panels in the US are a concrete example. The objective of the tariff increase is to boost the manufacturing of solar panels in the country but the results show that it is slowing down the shift to renewables.
To conclude, the power is back into the hand of the people and energy companies are adapting to a changing world in order to answer their demand. However, a push to the right direction from the government is always better than nothing.