Powering Progress Together (PPT) is a global series of engagements convened by Shell to encourage dialogue about future energy challenges.
In the UK we invited 150 business leaders, academics, entrepreneurs, NGOs, policy-influencers and community leaders to come together on 25 May 2017 to stimulate innovative thinking and share practical, on-the-ground solutions. This took place alongside Shell’s Make the Future Live Festival of ideas and innovation.
Our 2017 discussion topic was: How will new technologies accelerate the pace of the energy transition?
Energy plays a central role in enhancing the quality of life for people across the planet. However, addressing environmental stresses, from air quality to climate change, has never been more important. Simply put, the world needs much more energy in order to address development needs, as well as far fewer emissions to address environmental concerns.
If the world is to achieve the lower carbon future it needs, many think technology will be instrumental. The probability is of a near future where billions of people are connected by mobile devices, where lives are transformed by emerging technologies in for example, robotics, energy storage, autonomous vehicles and AI.
Shell is choosing to adapt and innovate in order to play its part in the global drive to provide more and cleaner energy for all in a sustainable future. The energy system is transitioning away from a dependence on hydrocarbons, albeit slowly, but, at Shell, we see new means of producing, distributing and consuming energy as opportunities not threats.
The event opened with a keynote address by Shell’s Downstream Director, John Abbott, who suggested that adopting the Silicon Valley attitude of being prepared to “fail fast”, gaining understanding of new areas and fighting for the right investment landscape are all important approaches. But, he stressed, all of them will fail without a commitment to collaboration.
A panel debate and Q & A session then enabled strategic discussion of the theme. The speakers were: Georg Ell - Director, Western Europe, Tesla; David Hone - Chief Climate Change Advisor, Shell; Occo Roelofsen - Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company; Jacqueline de Rojas - President, techUK; David Rowan - Editor-at Large, WIRED; Geert van de Wouw – Managing Director, Shell Technology Ventures
In the afternoon attendees focused on three more practical areas of opportunity via breakout sessions:
Session One: How will new technologies help change energy behaviour?
Facilitated by: Bruno Gardner – Managing Director Policy & Innovation, Carbon Trust Speakers: Tessa Cook – Co-Founder and COO, OLIO; David Moss – General Manager, Shell Retail UK; Richard Wright – Behavioural Science Director, Unilever
New technologies have transformed consumer behaviour – from wearable technology tracking our daily step counts to apps linked to our smart homes. We explored how other sectors adopt technology as a key to driving consumer behaviour.
Session Two: How will new technologies drive low emission mobility?
Facilitated by: Andy Eastlake – Managing Director, Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Speakers: Julia Thomas - Managing Director, greentomatocars; Matthew Tipper – VP New Fuels, Shell; Tony Walker - Deputy Managing Director at Toyota Motor Manufacturing
Reducing emissions on the UK roads could have the greatest impact in creating a low carbon country, and digitalisation is transforming the automotive sector. From electric vehicles and driver apps to cleaner fuels, we considered what game changers and/or disruptors could drive positive changes in the way we move people and goods in the near future.
Session Three: How will new technologies transform future energy systems?
Facilitated by: Jo Coleman – Strategy Development Director, Energy Technologies Institute Speakers: Prof. Nigel Brandon - Vice-Dean Research Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College; David Hill - Director of Business Development & Corporate Affairs, Open Energi; Joanna Hubbard – Chief Operating Officer, Electron; Anosh Thakkar – Head of Digital, Shell
New disruptive energy technologies are rapidly shaping energy systems around the world. We discussed the opportunities for new technologies such as AI, Blockchain and storage in creating more efficient and cohesive energy systems, including the challenges that these new technologies pose in terms of security, feasibility and cost. The discussion also provided thoughtful insights about how both more traditional and disruptive technologies can enable the energy systems of the future to meet growing demand.
The day concluded with Shell leaders Sinead Lynch – Chair, Shell UK and Chad Holliday, Chairman in conversation with the Moderator, Kamal Ahmed. They explored the key messages that Shell had taken from the day which included the vital role of partnerships, the challenge of providing consumers with something better than they have now, and the need for Shell, and other big corporate organisations to build public trust through greater transparency.