February 28, 2024

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Managing Future Energy for Sustainability with Giovanni Bruni, Partner, McKinsey & Company

Sustainability is built on the vision that everyone can meet their basic requirements without jeopardising future generations. Energy sustainability adheres to the same goals. Fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil are not only harmful to the environment when consumed for energy, but they are also unsustainable as they are finite resources.

But renewable and sustainable energy is the solution to these energy problems. Specifically, sustainable energy poses a lower environmental risk and contributes little to climate change. However, it is costly. While the energy sources themselves are usually accessible, there are costs connected to developing and constructing methods of capturing sustainable energy.

Against this backdrop, tech-enabled sustainability solutions have emerged as critical weapons in the fight against climate change and other social, environmental and economic issues.

Mixing the sources

An expert in the energy sector, Giovanni Bruni, Partner, McKinsey & Company, shares his keen insights in an interview with Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief OpenGov Asia. “The way I look at it, sustainable energy is something that has no or limited adverse effects on the environment, but there is also broader thinking on top of emissions: for example, the impact on habitats, the impact on water,” he explains.

He also notes the subtle difference between sustainable and renewable energy – the latter could regenerate itself instead of depleting. However, it still can adversely affect the environment and other areas.

Giovanni also acknowledges the importance of diverse energy sources when developing more sustainable energy systems in the future and that there is no absolute best mix of energy sources. “A fixed energy mix is unlikely. It’s always dependent on a given country’s dominant energy resources or location.”

Some areas may have a surplus in a particular resource but need more of others. For example, a windier area would have a good wind endowment, while another part with high sun availability might not get as much wind.

Mixing resources, ensuring grid interconnections, or developing energy storage capacity becomes vital when examining alternative energy. Renewables can be intermittent: the windier area should not rely on only windmills alone because sometimes there are conditions when the wind is not as good as usual to generate sufficient electricity.

“It was two years ago when there was a windless summer in Europe. So you don’t want to rely too much on one sort of the same resources. You want to have a mix; don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” he says.

Driving sustainability

Giovanni thinks it is a chicken and egg problem when it comes to pushing for the adoption of sustainable energy, which can be solved by collaboration between the industry and government. The private sector can drive initiatives while the government can support them with policies that allow industries to take decisions and embrace more risk.

“Usually, it is difficult for the government to drive it unilaterally. But policy can give more advanced visibility and help by creating these initial use cases, and maybe giving incentives could allow businesses to think forward. That’s one aspect which I think is important,” he elaborates.

Giovanni observes that many more sustainable energy commitments have emerged in the region and believes a majority of countries in Southeast Asia have moved toward a more sustainable perspective. This is signalled by shorter-term emission reduction targets, incentives, green business building and encouraging EV adoption.

New value chains and new economic opportunities could be the baseline to see decarbonisation as an opportunity to grow. It can be a way to leapfrog the economy and create new competencies.

Regarding which industry would be a priority to utilise sustainable energy, Giovanni feels that at this point, there is no way to pick a single choice. But among the sectors, power, transport, industry, agriculture and forestry make significant contributions, and each requires bespoke solutions.

“All these four big buckets have unique challenges; we need to find solutions and resolutions that look different, right?”

For example, instead of relying only on conventional fuels and renewables in the power sector, they can be coupled with some sources like hydrogen, which can be stored and provide ways to deal with intermittency.

And some industries, such as cement, face structural hurdles to reducing their carbon footprint. A possible solution is dealing with carbon by storing or reusing it.

LKYGBPC for sustainable energy

Giovanni has seen how the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) has progressed since its launch a few years ago. At that time, the competition was based more on technology applied in a consumer sense. He appreciates that now LKYGBPC includes the energy transition and sustainability sector in the competition.

“These types of competitions allow a broader set of people to engage. That’s the value, to have an impact and influence.”

He adds that embarking on these competitions can also help entice the new generation to adopt new technologies and practices.

“It helps educate in terms of understanding how your choices link to outcomes because oftentimes we don’t have that transparency,” he says. “Do I choose to walk, or do I take public transport? One thing that is very important is getting exposure to the actual reality on the ground.”

“What is really moving the needle? What are the practical hurdles that are happening? So that we can have a slightly more intimate understanding of what is happening. These are complex systems, especially when we talk about energy in the economy,” he adds.

Creating an experience is a profound way to present innovation to the youth, and Giovanni is optimistic that youth can take away much from such competitions.

Ultimately, he feels that through business competitions, youths have the potential to take that experience and bring it into their lives, their work, and whatever areas they want to have an impact and influence – even in the field of sustainable energy.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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