Read the recap report on the third annual KPMG Global Power & Utilities Conference held in Berlin, Germany on November 27 and 28, 2013.
3rd KPMG Global Power & Utilities Conference in Berlin
The third annual KPMG Global Power & Utilities Conference, held in Berlin, Germany on November 27 and 28, 2013, once again brought together energy experts from industry, politics and society.
Conference organizers Peter Kiss, Head of KPMG's Power & Utilities Practice, EMEA, and Michael Salcher, Head of Energy and Natural Resources, KPMG in Germany, welcomed over 200 decision-makers from energy companies, investors, regulatory agencies and other opinion leaders from more than 30 countries.
Together, conference participants discussed future strategic and financial challenges and heard keynote addresses by prominent experts in the energy industry:
On the opening day of the conference, Dr. Fatih Birol presented the International Energy Agency's publication "World Energy Outlook 2013". In his keynote address to top decision-makers in the energy sector, he cautioned that change was imminent: "Countries that once imported energy have now become exporters."
On the basis of international data, Mr. Birol noted that, despite great efforts in recent decades, a profound change in energy supply had not yet occurred. The share of fossil fuels in the global mix, he said, is currently 82 percent, which is just as high as 25 years ago. Nevertheless, the International Energy Agency's chief economist called for a continuation of efforts towards more sustainable energy generation. Moving towards a more efficient energy sector was not always easy, he remarked, but it was an urgent task which could not be delayed. That is because demand for energy will continue to rise, Birol said. Currently, China is the main driver of this development, the economist said, adding however that as early as the decade ahead, India will take over the role of growth engine.
On day two of the conference, the opening keynote address was delivered by the European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger, who talked about "The European energy system: challenges and opportunities in a changing landscape". Right at the beginning of his address, Mr. Oettinger highlighted the increasing relevance of electricity generation. Even today, not all people on the planet have access to electricity, he said; plus, a growing world population and increased demand for energy due to electric mobility meant that an efficient energy supply is increasingly important. It was therefore all the more alarming, Oettinger said, that at present no one is freely investing in electricity. The energy sector is the sector with the greatest lack of investment, the EU energy chief said.
The Commissioner also touched on the issue of efficient energy generation and climate protection in his opening keynote address. In his view, the challenges of the energy sector can only be overcome if national funding rules are integrated into a European framework. In that scenario, solar energy could be produced in the southern countries of the EU, while wind energy would be efficiently harvested in the northern countries. The Commissioner sees cross-border cooperation as a prerequisite for reaching existing climate targets, saying that in 2030, only 4.5 percent of global CO2 emissions will come from EU countries, representing a relatively insignificant proportion. If carbon emissions are to be significantly reduced, Oettinger continued, binding agreements would be required with China, Russia and the U.S.
In addition to the keynote addresses, seven peer-to-peer roundtables were held in total over both days of the conference, and these were moderated by KPMG experts from the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, India, the United States, Spain and Germany. Topics discussed by the panelists included future business of utilities, coal power generation outlook, future hotspots for global M&A in the power sector, smart cities - the impact of technology on consumer behavior, the future of the photovoltaic market, pushing the boundaries of offshore wind and cyber-security as a challenge for the industry in an interconnected world. Roundtable panelists included top executives of German and international power companies, financiers, political figures and representatives of non-governmental organizations, for example from RWE AG, Vattenfall, E.ON SE, CEZ Group, Gazprom Energoholding, First Solar, ACWA Power, Iberdrola and the Ministry of Energy and Power Development of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
The panels not only presented to conference participants a reflection of the current state of affairs the in the energy sector, but also allowed them an opportunity to glimpse the future.
On the whole, the conference made clear that the future will be marked by great challenges: the energy industry must respond to the increasing energy needs of emerging markets and improve existing infrastructure in developed markets while respecting ambitious climate targets. Those who set the right course now can look to the future with optimism and take advantage of the growing significance of power generation and supply.