The theme of this year’s Powering Progress Together (PPT) forum in Singapore was “Energy for Better Living”.
Shell’s country chairperson Goh Swee Chen kicked off the five-hour session by calling for everyone to get involved in the energy transition to a low-carbon future. “It is a big task,” she said. “We need everyone to put their heads together to find solutions.”
Society faces a dual challenge: how to manage greenhouse gas emissions while extending the economic and social benefits of energy to everyone on the planet. In Asia, where economic progress and rapid urbanisation are leading to increased energy demand, the challenge is particularly acute.
Technology and the future of energy
Technology’s role in the world’s energy future was the focus of discussion by a panel that included Mark Gainsborough, Shell’s Executive Vice President of its New Energies business; Dr Cheong Koon Hean, CEO of Singapore’s Housing & Development Board; Steffen Endler, a senior vice president at Siemens; Alexandre Lalumiere, 3D print business director at HP and Nathan Subramaniam, Director of the Sector and Projects Division at the Asian Development Bank.
The panelists agreed technology can be a double-edged sword. It has brought millions of people together but when used incorrectly, it can divide societies and exclude. Dr Cheong from HDB cited the example of the elderly, who may not be able to adapt as quickly to technological developments.
“However, at the same time, technology can also be used to manage their safety, in the form of monitoring systems in flats for the elderly,” she added.
Shell’s Gainsborough cited mobility and transport as areas where technology can have the most impact. “When I see cars sitting idle in driveways, I think of Singapore. It is a role model in mobility because you can rely on public transport. We have to look at better ways to use energy in built-in environments to move people around.”
Bright energy ideas
The forum included presentations from three student teams on their scenarios of how people in Asia Pacific and Middle East cities will live, work and play in 2050.
The teams, from Singapore’s Yale-NUS College in Singapore; Egypt’s American University of Cairo; and Thailand’s Chiangmai University were the country winners in Shell’s Imagine the Future Scenarios Competition. Yale-NUS College was the regional winner.
Mallika Ishwaran, Shell’s senior economist and energy policy advisor, said: “It is very interesting to see how young minds envision the future and how they can play a part in addressing its energy challenges.” She also spoke about the work of Shell’s Scenarios team in stretching one’s thinking to understand future opportunities and uncertainties.
The audience also heard from the five finalists of Shell Singapore’s #IdeaRefinery, a new accelerator programme for promising energy start-ups.
This year’s PPT takes place one again as part of Make the Future Singapore, a festival of ideas and innovation. The four-day public event at the Changi Exhibition Centre features bright energy ideas and solutions that address the global energy challenge – how to meet the energy demands of the future, while producing fewer CO2 emissions.