At the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi, the premiere gathering of the global energy community, REEEP Director General Martin Hiller pushed for accelerating technological and business innovation in the developing world at a panel discussion on promoting innovation and inspiring youth for the energy challenges of the next generation.
At a high-level WFES panel on innovation moderated by James Cameron, Founder and Executive Chairman of Climate Change Capital, the conversation was not just about technology, but on the complete picture of progress in energy. In particular, experts talked about bridging the gaps between individual elements: technological innovation, education, entrepreneurship, financing, and the human creativity that drives it all.
Martin Hiller, REEEP's Director General, talked about the the enabling power of technology, while stressing the importance of creative and enterprising individuals - and governments - in making them happen. For instance, the prevalence of "big data", the processing power to usefully analyze it and the devices to deliver it all lower the bar to increasing the efficiency of various complex systems immensely (as REEEP is pursuing with its Linked Open Data for Sustainable Urban Transport program). Yet these gains are held at bay by bureaucracy, red tape or old-fashioned thinking.
"Innovation is not just ideas," added Vicky Sharpe, President and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada, "innovation is bringing value to the market." This means promoting not just technology but a culture of entrepreneurship, of risk-taking, and of smart risk management. CEO of Nextek Power and direct current (DC) disciple Paul Savage proposed that the energy sector was heading into a period of disintermediation, in which "intermediaries" in the picture were removed, leading to greater efficiency and transparency.
Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize and Sustainability Director for Masdar, drove home the discussion with an appeal for the return of simplicity. "We need to get back to basics," said Dr. Al-Hosany, and to "not just technology but design" and creativity.
Indeed, it will be not just technology but a holistic picture of how science and technology, money and finance, and human enterprise and creativity come together that will shape the future of energy.