World Economic Forum: The Future of Energy

Published on Wednesday, 18 January 2017

“We are living in times of huge transformations. It is not a first for the industry, but what makes it different this time is the sheer speed of change. New technologies are driving transformation at a global level and, for the first time, the energy industry is following the trend with a hybrid approach and a great contamination with other sectors."

These are some of the words stated by Enel CEO Francesco Starace at Davos, on January 17, at one of the opening sessions of the World Economic Forum 2017 (WEF) titled “Strategic Update: The Future of Energy.”

According to the Enel CEO, “The transformation of the energy industry is being further accelerated by the influence of digital technologies.” Witness to this is the growth of the electric cars market, the competitiveness of renewable energy and innovation in energy infrastructure: “Electricity is being used now in ways never imagined before,” explained Starace. “And it will continue to be so in the future because changes in the industry are linked to innovations made by a variety of technologies. In 10-15 years’ time, electricity will experience an unimaginable expansion.”

The speed of change that has spread across the entire energy industry has led Enel to overhaul its business strategy and focus on renewable technologies and on the digitalisation of infrastructure. The CEO pointed out that “Enel has chosen to make investments that bring a return in 2-3 years. An investment horizon of five years would be risky today.” The reason for this is that everything is so densely concentrated: market uncertainty, the development of new technologies, consumer behaviors and the economic crisis are such momentous factors that a five-year horizon simply becomes too unreliable.

In addition to Enel’s CEO, the session on the future of energy at WEF 2017 saw the participation of Fatih Birol, Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Kenneth A. Hersh, Co-Founder and Chairman of NGP Energy Capital Management, Amin H. Nasser, President and CEO di Saudi Aramco, and Qiao Baoping, Chairman at China Guodian Corporation.

Finally, in speaking of the growth of demand in emerging countries, Starace explained that technology today offers a host of different, lean and sustainable innovative solutions that can meet specific needs of new markets.