Francois Austin, Partner and Global Head of Energy at Oliver Wyman provides an inside look at the energy transition including the World Energy Trilemma Index 2019 that was released at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi. The report, developed in partnership with Oliver Wyman, endows with an objective rating of national energy system performance across the three Trilemma dimensions (Energy Security, Energy Equity, and Environmental Sustainability of Energy Systems). In an exclusive conversation with Devdiscourse, Francois Austin shares his views on the current world energy scenario, Oliver Wyman's achievement, the newly released World Energy Trilemma Index 2019 and many more. The edited excerpts:
Devdiscourse: How do you feel in the 24th World Energy Congress?
Francois Austin: I believe World Energy Congress has been a huge success. I've been to previous Congresses and I think this is the best one I've been to. I think the level of commitment by the local energy companies in the region and energy companies outside the region has been fantastic as ever. It has a very senior executive presence both governmental and ministerial level as well as at the corporate level and certainly, I found it to be incredibly valuable.
Devdiscourse: How your company's innovations could make a change in the world energy scenario?
Francois Austin: We're working with the world's largest corporates as well as sort of large ministries particularly energy ministries around the world and we're supporting them in the energy transition. The energy ministries and the energy companies are addressing the issues associated with climate change, shareholder pressure and societal pressure and we're working with them in terms of helping them make better decisions around their portfolios, around their investment priorities and also how to drive and reduce sort of carbon consumption in their own operations. If you look at the results that were delivered for our clients, I believe we're making a meaningful contribution to the world in that sense.
Devdiscourse: What have been your company's major achievements so far?
Francois Austin: I'm very proud of the work that we've done on the World Energy Trilemma Index 2019. I think it creates a platform for conversations for the governments and for corporates to think about the trade-offs that they're having to deal with on a day-to-day basis in terms of sustainability, in terms of equity and in terms of kind of access and security. Thus, we've created a framework for a conversation globally around the energy transition. I'm also incredibly proud of the work that we've done with a number of corporates that helped them to rebalance their portfolios and lower their carbon footprint.
Devdiscourse: What is your company's business strategy for further global expansion?
Francois Austin: We've been building out the team over the course of the last six to seven years. We will continue to build out our presence in North America particularly in the Houston area focusing on both oil and gas and chemicals. In Europe, we see huge opportunity to work in the chemicals there and we will strengthen our team significantly in that area. The Middle East has been an area of great investment and great opportunity for us and we will continue to build out our teams and build out sort of the commercial platform to take to the market and then in APR (Asia Pacific Region) we have no choice but to really look to grow and expand our teams there. Energy is increasingly being consumed in the Eastern Market, equally well a number of players in Asia are becoming sort of the renewable superpowers of the future, and we need to be there and understand what's going on and contribute to that evolution.
Devdiscourse: Today, in association with World Energy Council, you released World Energy Trilemma Index 2019. What are the major findings of this report?
Francois Austin: If you look at the new dimensions to the report, one is that we've always done in year comparative studies between 128 countries that are within it. What we have done in this report is also looked at sort of a 19-year historical profile in terms of the evolution of individual countries against each of the tri-limit dimensions. That gives us a sense not just in terms of where people stand today but the path of the journey that they're on. The top 10 countries in the world are pretty much the top 10 countries that have been there for the last three or four years in reality. Even though they're in the top 10, they're facing challenges around issues of fuel poverty in Europe which is where most of those countries come from with the exception New Zealand and also issues in terms of security as they transition from fossil fuels to renewables and not necessarily yet having the resilience required to cope with that new energy mix. I believe, the other thing that we've seen is great improvement and they tend to be both African and Asian countries driving on aspects of sustainability and also of kind of equity. I mean we're seeing increased access, so there are still probably a billion people in the world who don't have access to power. But I think we're making inroads and I certainly hope that over the course the next five to 10 years, we'll not only see dramatic improvements in accessibility to power but also in solutions that are low carbon. To help them address the accessibility issue in parts of Africa as we're seeing in Kenya in Tanzania but also as we're seeing in Nepal and Bangladesh and other countries in Asia.
Devdiscourse: How do you see the role of Oliver Wyman in achieving a global goal of clean and affordable energy set by the United Nations for the year 2030?
Francois Austin: The work that Oliver Wyman does with the World Energy Council around the energy is magnificent. Trilemma enables us to create a platform, a framework, a series of conversations around the trade-offs of sustainability with the other dimensions of both equity and security. So, I think that is a contribution that we're making to the conversation. The other contribution we're making is that we are working actively within the Middle East region on a whole series of renewable agendas, re-leveraging the inherent assets of the Kingdom in terms of the sunshine that it's got to actually reduce its carbon footprint. So, in a number of areas, I believe, we're making meaningful contributions both at a national level and more geopolitical level.
Devdiscourse: What message do you carry from the 24th World Energy Congress?
Francois Austin: I think what this Congress does is that it brings together the key stakeholders in the energy world – be that from the government ministry level or whether it's at the corporate level. And I think it's just kind of reinforcement for everybody the fact that we are on this transition. Challenge to some extent by the amount of work that's got to be done but as we've seen through the Oliver Wyman and Energy Council Trilemma Index. You know we are making real progress around this. I think people will leave excited somewhat challenged by what still has to be done. I'm confident that we can actually achieve many of the objectives that we've set ourselves.