Report: Energy and Industrial Companies Expected to Remain Committed to Energy Transition Despite Covid-19

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by | May 27, 2020

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Despite current economic challenges, energy and industrial leaders are expected to remain committed to their long-term plans to reduce fossil fuel reliance. That’s according to a new report by Deloitte titled “Navigating the energy transition from disruption to growth.” Key findings from the report include:

  • Eighty-nine percent of executives surveyed across energy and industrial sectors reported already having or developing a strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • While a temporary pause in spending on some priorities and technologies is expected, as companies await a recovery, they are unlikely to be canceled completely.
  • Momentum for action on decarbonization, reinforced by growing consumer and stakeholder pressures, will likely not be compromised by present circumstances.

The report examines progress to date in energy transition, the decisions management teams in the energy, and industrial sectors are facing, and how the current economic environment could affect the transition’s future trajectory.

Energy transition remains a priority for energy and industrials

Despite the current economic challenges, the survey study findings suggest that energy and industrial leaders are expected to remain committed to an energy transition that they believe can help reduce costs, increase customer loyalty, and make their companies more competitive. Findings include:

  • Eighty-nine percent of surveyed executives (92% oil and gas, 92% power and utilities, 87% chemical, 87% industrials) reported their companies either already had a plan or were developing a strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Across sectors surveyed, some of the top drivers of decarbonization included customer focus and digital technologies supporting energy efficiency (i.e., cost savings) and decarbonization.
  • More than 50% of the executives reported that meeting decarbonization reduction targets are tied to board and/or executive compensation.
  • Seventy-one percent of CEOs surveyed across industries said that the key benefit achieved from their plans for a lower-carbon future was to improve the environment.
  • While environmental benefits will likely be deemphasized as companies regain their footing through the economic crisis, reducing costs and maintaining a competitive position are expected to remain important even in the downturn.

Decarbonization a strategic imperative for oil and gas

The report says the energy transition is having a mixed impact on the oil and gas sector, as decarbonization is expected to slow long-term oil demand growth. Most company leaders in this sector, however, appear to recognize this reality and are rethinking where and how they do business in a decarbonizing world. Many are making the energy transition a strategic priority, as evidenced from the survey results detailing the scale of plans and commitments in place.

  • Sixty-eight percent of surveyed CEOs indicated that the key component of their decarbonization strategy was a focus on low-carbon fuels, including natural gas.
  • Oil and gas executives cited consumer support and regulatory mandates including policy incentives, as the top drivers for the energy transition.
  • Almost half (49%) of oil and gas company respondents said they plan to switch to cleaner fuels or renewables in their facilities and field operations.
  • Further down the value chain, 57% of chemical executives reported that their company has invested in renewables to reduce emissions and waste.
  • More than half (56%) of oil and gas respondents indicated that plan metrics to reduce reliance on fossil fuels were tied to executive compensation.
  • When asked if a low-carbon future would have a positive, neutral, or negative impact on the future of their organization, over 60% surveyed said it would have a positive impact.

Technologies play key role in business climate goals

Survey respondents overwhelmingly cited technology as a key enabler of progress in the energy transition. While a near-term pause in spending on new technologies is expected, they are unlikely to be canceled completely as these investments help increase operational efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and benefit companies in the long run.

  • Digital technologies that improve energy efficiency were ranked as the top priority for oil and gas (59%); and industrial products and construction (53%) executives surveyed.
  • Carbon-capture-utilization-and-storage (CCUS) and other carbon-reducing technologies were identified as a key component to emission reduction by oil and gas (54%); and chemicals and specialty materials (54%) surveyed leaders.
  • Nearly 70% of executives who reported that they have a sustainability strategy in place, cited digital technologies supporting sustainability and energy efficiency as the key driver.
  • Top accelerators to achieving decarbonization goals among oil and gas surveyed executives included partnerships; mergers and acquisitions; and organic investments.

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