Innovation Insights Brief 2019

Energy Infrastructure: Affordability Enabler or Decarbonisation Constraint?

This Innovation Insights Brief is part of a series of publications by the World Energy Council focused on Innovation. In a fast-paced era of disruptive changes, this brief aims at facilitating strategic sharing of knowledge between the Council’s members and the other energy stakeholders and policy shapers.

The World Energy Council launched the Innovation Insights Brief: “Energy Infrastructure: Affordability Enabler or Decarbonisation Constraint? The brief contains exclusive insights based on a series of interviews with global leaders across the energy sector.

The transition to a decarbonised energy system implies that some of the existing energy infrastructure will be either stranded or decommissioned early which creates a need for a coordinated plan of action to minimize costs. The Insights Brief offers a set of principles on how to design an effective action plan for energy infrastructure.

Key messages:
  • A successful energy transition depends on infrastructure that is adaptable, reliable and affordable.
  • The magnitude of stranded assets is unknown to the market. There is a potential risk that decarbonisation could become cost-prohibitive if large portions of existing infrastructure are stranded.
  • Businesses should reframe market strategies to explore the opportunities of reusing existing infrastructure to support transition to a low-carbon future.
  • An Energy Infrastructure Action plan is needed to ensure existing infrastructure is part of the decarbonisation efforts throughout the world.

1. EXISTING ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE AND ITS POTENTIAL REPURPOSING OPPORTUNITIES SHOULD BE PART OF TODAY’S LONG-TERM PLANNING AND STRATEGIC DIALOGUE Existing energy infrastructure has been built around conventional resources over many decades with trillions of dollars in investment. It would be a  missed opportunity to not plan for the role of existing infrastructure in future energy systems.

2. NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS AND WIDER ENERGY STAKEHOLDERS SHOULD CO-DEVELOP AN ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE ACTION PLAN Energy leaders from around the world including national and regional policymakers have a critical role to play in driving forward the development of a coordinated Action Plan to better realise opportunities for aligning decarbonisation of energy supply with existing infrastructure that may need to be appropriately dealt with. In Europe, besides national governments, European policymakers will have a key role for energy infrastructure plan to ensure coherence for all the countries.

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