The old saying that the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones has perhaps never been more relevant. The key problem in managing the challenges of a world in change overdrive remains not merely acknowledging shifts and disruptions, but doing what is necessary to stay ahead of them.
The solution requires that organizations better understand the social, legal and regulatory implications of disruption, and we key on factors influencing the following four primary areas of the energy domain:
- Energy production – with accelerating energy diversification and advanced digital technologies changing the game in energy production, our focus will be on advances in non-hydro renewable energy technologies, social and market forces at play in driving the need for choice and flexibility in energy production and delivery systems, and the legal and risk and compliance issues arising from emerging and evolving energy production models. This includes corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs), do-it-yourself or “behind the fence” power generation projects, and government incentives and development programs.
- Energy transmission and storage – given solar and wind technologies and use are well past proof of concept, the emphasis will be on grid access and cost of maintenance, grid security, the role of traditional utilities, and rapidly advancing technologies and models for energy storage, which are driving innovation and collaboration but also disrupting legal, regulatory and compliance environments – especially multi-jurisdictional projects and scenarios, particularly when federal policy effectively remains at the framework stage.
- Energy use – accelerating shifts in energy user expectations and demands, including those involving flexibility and user-friendly access to energy provision and management, mean that energy efficiency policies and options, the role of system operators in managing grids, and government policies regarding incentives and program development will continue to evolve rapidly, putting the onus again on organizations, institutions and individuals to find reliable go-to sources of timely and relevant insight and strategic advice.
- Social and cultural factors – ongoing social shifts and the growing emphasis in organizations on the paradoxically named “soft” issues means the difficult problems associated with climate risk, organizational branding, public trust and license to operate pose increasingly unavoidable challenges – issues warranting exploration from new and established perspectives. As our global head of risk advisory Jane Caskey put it recently: “It’s really all about using our knowledge and the thought leadership we’re gaining from our clients around the world to assess what we’re observing and how those issues are actually playing out.”
It would not be a stretch to say the world has never been more turbulent in peace time than it has been over the past two decades. The heightened sense that decarbonization is now a top priority means, right or wrong, that there are no easy retreats or places to hide for anyone going forward.
Survival in this climate, then, amounts to not just thinking and talking about doing things differently, but actually doing things differently – starting by embracing the complexities and uncertainties of the energy transition that most now take for granted.
“Remember, nobody changes the world on their own,” Chris Hadfield reminds us, and we agree. Getting in front of the waves of change today is necessarily a collaborative process. To that end, we look forward to your comments and questions.
For more information, contact our energy team.