Energy Leaders at Work on Our Greener Destiny
Energy Leaders at Work on Our Greener Destiny

Given the fast-changing energy landscape, global energy industry leaders face a number of ever evolving concerns and in Hong Kong, climate change, the need to change people’s behaviour and joining the hydrogen revolution are high on the list.

The World Energy Council publishes an annual World Energy Issues Monitor which provides a useful snapshot of critical uncertainties and action priorities identified by more than 2,500 energy policymakers, experts, and corporate executives from 108 countries.


What keeps energy leaders awake at night?

This year, economic trends appear as the overriding critical uncertainty for energy leaders all over the world, as COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have driven an economic downturn. 


Economic trends, carbon abatement, cyber security risk, energy supply and the investor environment are the top five critical uncertainties for global energy leaders as reported in the World Energy Issues Monitor 2021.
Source: World Energy Issues Monitor 2021, World Energy Council



Carbon abatement is also a key concern both globally, and in the Asia Pacific region. A growing number of countries are committing to net-zero carbon targets, including China, Japan and South Korea. While there are significant uncertainties and concerns in transitioning towards a carbon neutral energy supply, some currently commercially unviable technologies, like carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), may become possible options, where there is sufficient policy support. 

The global trend towards digitalisation has also led to growing uncertainty and concerns in cyber security risk. Under the pandemic, the shift to work-from-home has generated huge demand for remote access of IT systems, which has further increased the level of cyber security risk.


In Hong Kong, by contrast, climate adaptation, customers’ behavioural changes, geopolitics and the potential of hydrogen to play a role in future energy systems were found to be pressing issues alongside economic trends.


Although the hydrogen economy has become a new priority on the international agenda, this issue has yet to have immediate impact for most energy leaders around the world. In the Asia Pacific region, countries such as Japan, China, Singapore and Australia have already developed their own hydrogen strategies or plans, while energy leaders in Hong Kong have started to explore the possibility of a green hydrogen economy to support a zero-carbon future. 

An offshore hydrogen facility
Hong Kong energy leaders are exploring the role of hydrogen in future energy systems.

What keeps energy leaders busy at work?

In terms of action priorities that energy leaders are currently working on, renewable energy and energy efficiencies remain at the forefront for energy leaders globally, regionally and in Hong Kong. 



Renewable energy, energy efficiencies, affordability, demographic patterns and support mechanisms are the top five action priorities for global energy leaders as reported in the World Energy Issues Monitor 2021.
Source: World Energy Issues Monitor 2021, World Energy Council


This is supported by a study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) which suggests renewable energy and energy conservation and efficiency could make up 50% of the carbon abatement, playing a key part in limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C compared with pre-industrial levels. The fall in the levelised cost of building utility-scale renewable capacity and battery energy storage appears to be a catalyst for renewables growth.


According to the estimates of the International Renewable Energy Agency, renewables as well as energy conservation and efficiency could make up 50% of the carbon abatement needed for an energy transition pathway aligned with the 1.5°C climate ambition.
Source: World Energy Transitions Outlook: 1.5°C Pathway (Preview), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
1. The 1.5°C Scenario describes an energy transition pathway aligned with the 1.5°C climate ambition, limiting the global average temperature increase by the end of the present century to 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels.
2. The Planned Energy Scenario provides a perspective on energy system developments based on governments’ current energy plans and other planned targets and policies, as of 2019, including Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

Innovative transport surfaced as one of the action priorities of energy leaders in Asia and in Hong Kong. According to IRENA’s projections, EVs will account for more than over 80% of the world’s road transport by 2050. This massive electrification in transport will depend on the evolution of batteries and charging infrastructure as well as policy support mechanisms.


Meanwhile, energy leaders are prioritising the allocation of resources to technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of things. These have the potential to enhance energy efficiency and demand side management, while facilitating transport innovation including autonomous driving and smart mobility.


The World Energy Council survey was conducted at the peak of the pandemic for many parts of the world and indicates that the move towards a low-carbon future remains a priority for energy leaders with vision. By maintaining their focus on sustainable solutions that support communities on the road to post-pandemic recovery, these energy leaders understand there can be no detours on the journey to a greener tomorrow.