The future of the energy industry looks a lot brighter

Thanks to innovations in technology, consumers will have more control over where their energy comes from and how and when they want to use it

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Industry highlights the 24th World Energy Congress at Ministry of Energy and Industry. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
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Behind every light switch and the power supply to every home and business, there is a revolution going on in the energy sector across the world that affects everyone on the planet. The energy systems of the future will be vastly different from the ones we use today, with new technology putting consumers at their very heart.

Our industry is undergoing sweeping changes across the world as new technology is embraced to allow for greater production of green energy, increased efficiency, less waste and reduced emissions.

The huge sea-change under way in production and consumption is driving governments and energy companies to continuously evolve and innovate to deliver sustainable clean energy but it will also have a significant impact on end consumers, who will have more control over where their energy comes from and how they use it.

The scale of change over the next couple of decades will be considerable. The landscape of the energy industry is already being transformed as it drives towards a more convenient, efficient and ecological infrastructure.

This month the future of the sector will be discussed at length by some of the world's leading innovators from the industry when Abu Dhabi proudly hosts the 24th World Energy Congress. This renowned event is coming to the Middle East for the first time during a pivotal period for the sector on a UAE, regional and global level.

It is vital we continue to share our knowledge with the rest of the world and learn from our colleagues in other countries, so that we can work together to decrease emissions, increase clean production and improve efficiency to reduce waste

One significant change predicted in many parts of the world is that energy production will become more localised. In the majority of regions around the world, the burning of fossil fuels takes place in a small number of large-scale plants. These currently work at between 40 to 45 per cent efficiency and waste a significant amount of heat. Future energy plants will be smaller in scale and more localised.

Many experts believe that by taking a local approach, there could be a significant reduction in energy waste. In colder countries surplus heat from localised producers could be passed on to nearby homes and businesses while there would also be a reduction in wastage as the energy has less distance to cover.

Intelligent charging systems and digitisation will also have a significant impact. For example, the Internet of Things is an emerging technology system, which is already receiving a significant amount of attention in the sector as it can be used to control how we use and store energy. Modern appliances are being designed with a level of interconnectivity, which means we can programme each item to use, or not use, energy when we choose, and so efficiently manage lulls and surges in power.

The biggest change of all, however, is that through these advances in technology, consumers will go from being on the receiving end of the energy system to being at its heart. They will have more control over where their energy comes from, how and when they want to consume it, and they will be able to take an active role in making sure it doesn’t cost the Earth.

Dubai, 14, Nov, 2017: Toyota's first Hydrogen Fuel car Mirai  displayed at the Dubai International Motor Show in Dubai. Satish Kumar for the National / Story by Adam Workman
The future of transport and a focus on the end user of energy will be a big theme of Abu Dhabi's staging of the World Energy Congress. Satish Kumar / The National

The UAE’s leadership has set out a vision that includes a forward-thinking energy industry with a balanced mix of nuclear, renewables and fossil fuels. We have made huge strides as a nation in the past 30 years to become a leader in energy production and green energy practices but it is absolutely vital that we continue to share our knowledge with the rest of the world and learn from our colleagues in other countries, so that we can work together to decrease emissions, increase clean production and improve on efficiency to reduce waste.

This is why the World Energy Congress represents such a significant milestone – not just for our industry but for the UAE as a whole. It is the longest-running and most influential gathering of energy experts and is the only place where the entire global energy ecosystem comes together.

The congress will offer us an unrivalled platform to showcase Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s relentless pursuit of an energy diversification strategy to deliver a more prosperous future for its people, cementing our position as a global leader in energy.

It is also a hugely important strategic event in terms of facing the challenges of the future of the energy sector in the region and reviewing the latest technologies applied by the UAE's Ministry of Energy and Industry and our group of partner companies, to allow us to continually evolve and improve the way we meet rising energy demand in the country in a sustainable way.

We look forward to welcoming our global colleagues to Abu Dhabi next Monday to discuss the future of energy and for the event to deliver a lasting legacy.

Suhail Al Mazrouei is the UAE's Minister of Energy and Industry