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The Future of Energy: North America – Part 2

Randall Cozzens
May 14, 2020

Part two of our conversation with Randall Cozzens, North America Sector Head of Energy, Utilities, and Chemicals at Capgemini

The global health emergency has people around the world wondering when things will return to normal. But perhaps, a better question is: What will normal look like in a post-crisis world?

We are joined by Randall Cozzens, executive global leader and North America sector head of Energy, Utilities, and Chemicals for the conclusion of our two-part interview series about how the present health emergency, coupled with a collapse in oil prices, may affect the North American energy market. In this segment, we discuss how recent events may reshape public sentiment and what that could mean for sustainability and climate change efforts.

How is the present oil crisis and public health emergency affecting energy transition plans in North America?

It’s not yet clear what impact the oil crisis and public health emergency will have on transition efforts in North America. Most likely, we will see an acceleration of plans and progression of thinking. For example, one large North American oil and gas client has the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2024 as one of their executive key performance indicators (KPIs)  This begs the question if we will see the timeline for such efforts move up. Likely, the answer is yes.

More broadly speaking, it will be interesting to see how sentiment will change over time – for individuals, society, and industry – and how that will affect energy organizations’ sustainability agenda. Data from the past several weeks reveals how reduced emissions have improved air quality all over the world. This situation provides some proof that a global, orchestrated reduction in the carbon footprint can have a quick and strong correlation to environmental recovery. I suspect that discussions on these topics will continue in earnest. The question is, where will they go? What sort of mindset changes will occur and will they accelerate transition and sustainability efforts? Will public sentiment drive the agenda?

We don’t have the answers to those questions yet, but the industry should keep a very close eye on sentiment – how it is shifting and if a change will accelerate behavioral trends. For example, once people see a body of evidence around GHG reductions during this period, will we see more electric vehicles (EVs) being purchased? Will there be an acceleration in the rate of adoption? The industry should take note of this sales data, as increased purchases of EVs may be an early indicator of how public sentiment has changed around this issue.

What does a global, orchestrated effort look like?

Climate change is a very complex issue because it requires global coordination. The Paris Agreement was designed to bring the global community together around some very specific objectives and targets. Those global conversations and coordination need to continue.

I think this situation provides us with an opportunity to look across the EUC sector and have private companies assume a leadership role and act as an orchestrator. That means bringing together energy generation companies and producers, as well as the technology industry, the investment community, government entities, and community leaders to drive change. In many ways, EUC companies are far better positioned to unite these efforts and drive meaningful, collaborative change than the public sector or governments working in isolation.

This was one of the ideas we explored in the most recent edition of the World Energy Markets Observatory (WEMO). Our research underscored this idea that energy companies and utilities must act as orchestrators, driving progress as it relates to policy, technology, financing, and behavior change.

What three words would you use to describe the North America energy industry?

Resilient: North America is investing in more diverse sources of energy and embracing sector technology, as well as digital technology. Taken together, this will improve the resiliency of the industry.

Orchestrator: Energy companies and utilities have an important role to play in bringing together different stakeholders to shape the future of the industry and the sustainability agenda.

Action: There is urgency in addressing these issues. Organizations need to act and they need to act together – with resolve and conviction.

To learn more about the key findings of Capgemini’s research, read The Future of Energy report or download the most recent edition of the World Energy Markets Observatory (WEMO).