Energy transition requires well timed investments
The webinar on April 7th 2021 was hosted by Matti Liski, Professor of Economics at Aalto University School of Business. He was joined by Matti Rautkivi, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Wärtsilä, and Miika Johansson, Business Unit Lead of Renewable Energy at St1.
Liski pointed out that large-scale energy transitions have happened before in a relatively short period of time. For example, France managed to cut their energy production emissions down to one tenth by shifting to nuclear power between the 1970s and 1980s.
However, climate change and global emission targets are forcing societies to shift focus to renewable technologies. Governments around the world have reacted by introducing policies that subsidize green solutions, as well as taxing and pricing emissions and old technologies.
'These policies and markets create a growing demand for new technologies,' Liski said.
Where is transformation needed most?
Johansson highlighted the importance of analyzing what technologies and sectors need transforming first and foremost. For example, the liquid fuel infrastructure is equally suitable for the renewable fuel distribution, whereas making electric car charging more accessible requires a completely new infrastructure.
'The biggest challenge for energy companies is finding the right time to invest in new, uncertain technologies and business areas.'
Rautkivi emphasized that the COVID-19 situation has provided an opportunity for businesses and individuals to get a concrete sense of what it takes to reach the emission targets set by the Paris agreement. He also shared Wärtsilä’s learnings from their renewable energy initiatives in certain African countries, where local wind and solar conditions provided cheaper means of producing energy than coal plants.
'Even though everything will change, let’s recognize that this is an opportunity and we have the tools and ways to seize it,' he continued.
Big tech companies have a part to play
The experts concluded that big tech companies have a part yet to play in the energy transition. We might soon see brands like Amazon and Google invest in renewables and utilize their user data sources to provide cheap energy to consumers — thus disrupting the whole industry.
KAUTE talks x Aalto University is a webinar series bringing together representatives from the industry and academia, to discuss and learn about world-shaping phenomena of our time through focused and thought-provoking presentations. The webinar series included three events during 2020–2021: Data-driven future on Dec 9th, Diversity and inclusion in organizations on Feb 2nd, and Building a zero-carbon society on April 7th.
Watch all the KAUTE talks x Aalto University webinar recordings here