The World Energy Week 2018 focused on the challenges of the energy transition, between perceived risks and digitalization.
From the 8th to the 11th of October the World Energy Council hosted the World Energy Week in Milan.
The third and final day were open to the media and we were there to bring our readers some insights.
The Energy Transition Through Digitalization
During the Energy Transition Summit the panelists analyzed what are the drivers of the energy transition.
However, what has been unanimously considered the key driver allowing to transition from fossil fuels to greener sources is innovation.
Innovation not just in the form of new and more advanced and efficient production, transportation and storage technologies, but also as digitalization, that has been the fil rouge of the Energy Transition Summit.
According to the speakers, the degree of penetration of electric vehicles in the automobile market, the efficiency of energy production and storage systems, the growing precision of smart meters in smart grids and smart cities all depend to a great extent on digitalization.
To make a simplistic and very straightforward reasoning, we can consider that on the one hand digitalization allows a more efficient use of energy, bringing eventually to a decrease in consumption.
On the other the rapid development of renewable technologies is increasing their stability and potential.
These two elements together make technology and digitalization key to the energy transition.
New Technologies to Face New Risks
A poll conducted during the summit itself on what are the main risks perceived in the energy markets confirmed what risk experts have been hearing for a while.
Cyber attacks and extreme weather keep everyone awake at night.
The high level of interconnection of energy systems makes them very vulnerable to cyber attacks, that have been increasing in the last few years.
Global warming is causing much more frequent episodes of extreme weather compared to the past.
In the opinion of the speakers technology and digitalization are essential to address these risks.
Enrico Maria Carlini from Terna – one of the main European transmission grid operators – stressed how necessary it is to invest in IT tools capable of predicting unforseen events and build new transmission grids to reinforce the existing energy system.
A View From Brussels
The importance of digitalization was also underlined by Megan Richards – Director of Energy Policy in DG Energy (ENER) of the European Commission since 1 April 2017.
Richards reminded the audience that the EU was born as the Coal and Steel Community not even 70 years ago, while today it is at the forefront of the energy transition. Targets on renewables are constantly increased, as well as the number of PCI, to create room for more renewables projects.
Is There Still Space for Fossil Fuels?
The World Energy Week 2018 concluded with a view on the Italian situation.
Many of the panelists represented companies that carry on business in the fossil fuel sector, and this was probably the only occasion where oil was mentioned with some relevance.
The fact that oil was simply overlooked for two entire days is a strong signal that it is considered the fuel of the past.
Gas was treated much more friendly, but mainly as a temporary mean to transition to energy systems fully based on green sources.
Thw World Energy Week had the merit of gathering a variety of views, creating a challenging debate with much food for thought.
Next stop: Abu Dhabi, September 2019.