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Futures and Strategy Special Interest Group: first meeting on the Future of Energy (part 1/ 2)

April 17, 2014

Sponsored by SAMI consulting and the Strategic Planning Society (SPS), the first special interest group meeting on “Futures and Strategy” took place on April 1st at the Cass Business School. This will be the first in a series of events and activities aiming to develop the capability of strategists to use futures views and tools in driving a strategic agenda.

The participants explored the future of energy on a 20 year horizon based on future presentations and tools provided to support the discussion.

Chris Yapp presented the road to 2035. Each great innovation surge from the industrial revolution back in the 18th century to the present ICT revolution, are observed to evolve in three stages. The installation period (the initial enthusiastic bubble led by financial capital) is followed by a recession (turning point) due to the difficulty of social absorption of the new paradigms. This in turn is followed by a deployment period (the golden age led by production capital) that is enabled by new regulations and policies for widening markets and insuring social stability. Are we currently observing the premises of a sustainable knowledge-society golden age? What is clear is that some key supporting technologies are there such as cloud computing, internet of things, gamification, 3D printing, new smart cities, sensor nets, new materials like graphene with its conductivity and energy storage properties and synthetic biology protocells. But most of these technological advances are creating challenges on the energy front as they are driving up the demand for energy, requiring more adjustments towards a low carbon world, creating new vulnerabilities (e.g., the growth of wireless is resulting in a growing vulnerability to solar flares) and necessitating the build-up of critical national infrastructure that can cope with the new requirements. Further thoughts on energy futures include: centralised versus decentralized generation and consumption, local solutions versus global, market versus state control, energy saving and management, fuel poverty and systemic risk.

The Russian-Ukrainian current crisis was afforded special attention as a key event that may have an impact on future energy supply in Europe. To quote the European Wind Energy Association: “…The situation in Crimea is a wake-up call, Europeans rely on the most unstable and volatile parts of the world for energy security…”.

Jim Ormond from Article 13 presented the Generation Y’s views on the future of energy in Europe (refer to March 28th and April 4th’s posts on SAMI blog for a more detailed description). The two identified focal uncertainties were the “security and affordability of energy supply” and “public opinion/support for new builds and renewables”. By answering either “yes” or “no” to each of the 2 focal questions, four combinations were obtained of which  two scenarios, the “No-No” scenario called “ Two-Tier energy” and “Yes-Yes” scenario called “All is well”, were deemed most plausible and used as a starting basis for the group discussion.

Finally, a document summarising the “3 horizons” framework was distributed to the participants. 3 horizons help organize and consider the interplay of identified trends and emerging changes by classifying them into 3 distinct “horizons”. Horizon1 (the managerial) includes today’s dominant patterns and accumulations of past decision and designs. Horizon3 (the visionary) subsumes all the imagined futures and emerging changes representing transformative shifts from the present. And finally, Horizon2 (the entrepreneurial) consists of a zone of innovation and turbulence as it looks both towards past and future, to respond to limitation of H1 and opportunities of H3. Refer to February 7th’s post on SAMI blog for a more detailed description of the 3 horizons framework.


Written by Alia Karaouni – part two will continue next week.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2014 2:27 am

    I think we should all take a better look at renewable energy systems.

  2. June 11, 2014 12:22 pm

    Hope I will make it next time!

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