87% of the energy consumed worldwide comes from fossil fuels, a finite source of energy that will eventually run out. Renewable energies, despite efforts to invest in these in recent years, still account for a small percentage of global consumption. Aware of the need to promote debate about energy challenges, ESADE recently staged a workshop entitled The Coming Energy Market, which brought together a number of world energy experts from business, academic and organisational spheres to analyse the present and the future of the energy market. The initiative was organised by ESADEgeo, in collaboration with Aspen Institute, The Boston Consulting Group and KIC InnoEnergy.
The workshop opened with a debate about the technological challenges and the potential, in the medium to long term, of renewable energies, electricity storage, third and fourth generation nuclear energy, and shale gas. The experts agreed that renewable energies will play a key future role in ensuring a smooth transition when oil supplies run out. There is good news for the planet, insofar as renewable energies are of indisputable importance in the fight to prevent energy dependency and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I left the workshop feeling fairly optimistic; we have come further than one could have predicted some years ago, but there is still a lot to be done where energy is concerned. Renewable energies will be the long term commitment, but not the short or medium term, due to the investment they require.
In the session on the geopolitics of energy security, a panel of experts from China, India, Russia and the European Union discussed issues of great importance concerning global energy governance and access to energy resources. The workshop ended with a debate on the energy policy and regulatory framework in various parts of the world. I would echo the observations of our ESADEgeo president, Javier Solana, who closed the workshop with the following words: “Major technological changes are occurring and the economic crisis is diverting attention from the challenges ahead on energy – challenges that must not be underestimated.”
The International Energy Agency predicted that in the year 2035 renewable energies would represent 14.5% of world energy consumption. The European Union has set itself a slightly more ambitious target: to reach a 20% share of energy from renewable resources by the year 2020. The figures are encouraging, but we must continue to channel efforts towards increasing this percentage in the next few decades, if we are to avoid a situation in which the end of oil has serious consequences for the economy.