Disrupting energy – Three takeaways from Energy Disruptors Unite

Calgary recently was host to the Energy Disruptors Unite conference – a two-day event that brought together people from all corners of the energy industry to discuss what the energy future looks like and how we will get there.

The conference lineup included headliners like Malcolm Gladwell and Sir Ken Robinson, but some of the real stars of the show were those living and breathing the energy industry every day: Mark Little, CEO of Suncor; Istvan Kapitany, Global Executive Vice President of Royal Dutch Shell, and the members of the North America energy panel – Deborah Byers, EY; Celine Gerson, Schlumberger Canada Ltd.; Audrey Mascarenhas, Questor Technology Inc.; and Michael Crothers, Shell Canada.

Here are three takeaways that jumped out at us.

 

Canada’s energy industry has unique strengths

 

Canada’s energy industry is unique. Not because it’s bigger than others (3rd largest proven oil reserves). Not because it’s harder to get product out of the ground and to customers (we must extract oil from sand and then transport it a long way). The strength of Canada’s energy industry lies in the way that it gives back to communities; innovates to continually improve; and demonstrates resilience and diversity.

 

There is an energy transition taking place

 

Yes, there is an energy transition taking place. Electrification is increasing. Electric vehicle sales are going up. And wind and solar are taking greater shares of the power generation market.

But, global energy demand is increasing rapidly – up 18% by 2035 – and we need all energy sources to meet this growing appetite while lowering emissions.

The Canadian oil and gas industry is playing a big role reducing climate emissions – the oil sands have lowered emissions intensity by 30% and liquified natural gas (LNG) is on its way to gaining access to international markets beyond the U.S.

That last point is key – getting Canadian LNG to Asian markets to be used in power generation will replace higher-emitting fossil fuels.

As electrification grows, we must remember that electricity is an energy form, not an energy source. Natural gas is critical globally for electricity generation, let’s look closely at how that energy is being generated and the best possible sources used to produce it.

 

Never will the world be as slow as it is today

 

In a world that seems to move at a blistering pace – this is a scary thought. But it’s true. Technology is advancing faster than ever before, and it is enabling business and life to happen at speeds we’ve never experienced. Developments like blockchain and AI are being used to democratize electricity markets and increase energy efficiency. On-demand power purchasing is resulting in less electricity being used, and lower prices for consumers. Advancements like these will play a significant role in shaping the energy system of the future.

This event was an example of the innovation and technology that is leading disruption. But it’s not centered in one place – these stories came from all over the globe and drive home another important point: the energy future is a global future and we must not restrict ourselves to dealing with these issues regionally. Think bigger.