Is the Energy Transition a risk or an opportunity for geoscience? Which Energy Transition areas have the most growth potential? How is digital accelerating the path to Net-Zero? How big is the Energy Transition market? What do I need for a job in the future? How quick will the transition unfold, when do I need to be ready for Net-Zero?
Society faces a dual challenge: how to make a transition to a low-carbon energy future to manage the risks of climate change, while also extending the benefits of energy to everyone on the planet. This is a challenge that requires changes in the way energy is produced, used and made accessible to more people while drastically cutting emissions.
This transition is under way. It is being driven by many factors, including economic growth, evolving consumer habits, emerging technologies and the introduction of national policies which focus on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and local pollutants (including nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide). Net Zero pledges are being made and these need to be honoured.
Despite scenarios indicating that oil and gas will be required for decades to come, there are changes in what, how and when to explore and exploit, considering the already discovered resources and new requirements. This means the role of the geoscientist is changing too.
The projected global increase in energy demand, and the diversification of supply sources means a deep, solid understanding of geoscience core skills is still required, be it for oil & gas exploration, CCS, strategic mineral mining, geothermal energy extraction, and subsurface energy storage. Due to the growth in digitalisation and fusion of energy supplies, there will be a wider spectrum of roles for geoscientists, especially those who have multi-domain knowledge and maintain a learning mind-set.
More discussion is required outside our ecosystem, especially with governments and the public at large on how traditional integrated oil & gas companies are transforming into integrated energy companies, diversifying the service they provide to society and how they can be part of the solution. The discussion should not underplay the contributions made in the improvement of people’s lives due to greater access to energy and be a source of investment capital required for renewable energy, whilst also acknowledging the environmental challenges of the current energy supply mix.
We need to reach out and encourage the next generation of geoscience students and professionals. Upskilling and retraining career development opportunities for early, mid, and late career professionals; retrain to retain! This new generation deeply cares about climate change and is keen to get involved. To attract talent, universities and companies need to show how their studies & work link to their core values, and how they too can become part of the solution.
Geoscientists have unique insights on long-term processes impacting the earth, are skilled in dealing with uncertainty, collaborate with other sciences and have the ability to deal with large amounts of data. Hence, step-up, play your role and seek the dialogue in the energy transition!