Rapid de-carbonisation and resilience building

Dr Tej Gidda, GHD Global Leader – Future Energy, has identified five key priorities for industry stakeholders, government policymakers and the wider energy ecosystem to consider, in order to de-risk the transition.

Unlocking money and markets

Ensuring consistent and sufficient capital flows will be critical to build resilience into the energy system and guarding against future shocks. This will require smart policy and regulatory frameworks that drive returns from long-term investment into energy infrastructure, as well as investors recognising that resilient energy infrastructure is more than an ESG play – it is a smart business investment. It will also mean directing more capital to early-stage projects and the emerging energy tech start-up ecosystem to unlock riskier returns.

Supercharging engineered solutions

Integrating well-thought-out design principles into new energy infrastructure and retrofitting existing infrastructure will be critical to de-risking the transition. This will help build resilience, energy efficiency and new product lines that will drive forward decarbonisation. As the custodians of innovation, R&D teams in the world’s top energy companies also have a major role to play in developing new tech to solve the problems faced by the sector.

Carefully balancing supply chains and resources

The transition will require access to new streams of raw materials, including critical minerals, and the re-tooling of entire supply chains to succeed. This switch is a real constraint on the transition and perhaps the biggest risk to success. Resilient supply chains are a hallmark of businesses that are well primed to manage the transition and weather the current crisis. Furthermore, showcasing that your business is resilient to shocks and is taking a lead on the transition to renewables will help attract perhaps the most finite resource of all: talent. Indeed, attracting and (re)skilling the workforce of the future – both the next wave of graduates and those incumbent in the industry – is a key priority for the industry and the wider education system.

Securing social acceptance to succeed

The transition will require an infrastructure-building programme the likes of which the sector has never seen. It is therefore essential to develop community understanding of the need for this infrastructure and the lifestyle changes required by everyone for it to succeed. This will require engagement at both a macro level, to build broad acceptance of the need to invest in decarbonisation strategies to build long-term resilience, and engagement at a community level where the energy infrastructure essential for transition will be built.

Ensuring a just transition

A de-risked transition is a just transition. Emerging markets that have contributed the least to global warming must be able to access the capital required for the switch to renewables (while balancing other pressing priorities such as health, education and economic growth). These emerging markets are also predicted to become the world’s largest energy consumers as the standard of living rises, underscoring the need for all economies to be enabled to transition, if we are to achieve global net-zero goals. Fairly sharing the cost of the transition will require important yet difficult intergovernmental conversations about the transfer of capital, skills, technology and expertise from the developed to the developing world.

With almost all of the leaders in our study believing the current energy crisis is the worst they have ever seen, progress towards a low-carbon future is clearly at risk. However, it is imperative to ensure decarbonisation is not derailed; we must unwaveringly commit to the rapid acceleration of the energy transition and to building resilience into the global system to ensure it can withstand future shocks.

Dr Tej Gidda
GHD Global Leader – Future Energy