COVID-19 accelerates energy transition, policies, collaborations needed: experts

By Gao Lu

HOUSTON, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated energy transition worldwide, experts said at a virtual conference Wednesday, noting that policies and collaborations are needed in the process.

The Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies and Baker Botts L.L.P. co-hosted their fourth annual energy conference in the U.S. city of Houston, often referred to as the world's energy capital.

During the conference armchair discussion, Shell Oil Company President Gretchen Watkins said the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition from traditional energy to clean and renewable energy.

"I do think that COVID has shined a light on the energy transition and climate change that wasn't as bright as it was before," she said.

Giving examples, Watkins said some indicators, such as increasing demand for solar power and batteries in the past months, have shown that such transition will accelerate.

But Watkins also pointed out that the transition cannot happen naturally. Rather, policies and collaborations are needed.

Echoing Watkins, Deborah Byers, Americas Industry Leader of Ernst & Young L.L.P., believed that urban planning is a factor that is often overlooked when talking about energy transition.

"Vehicles is a huge consumer of fossil fuels and liquid fuels. We drive 3.3 trillion miles a year in the United States," she said. "If we have two-wheel transportation adoption in places like China and India, that could have dramatic impact."

Gabriel Collins, Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Regulatory Affairs at the Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies, noted that policy measures such as carbon taxation or other ways of pricing would help the energy transition as well.

This year's conference, "Pandemic, Price War and Other Disruptions: Resilience in Energy Systems," is held virtually across four days and addresses current issues affecting global energy markets, the oil and gas industry, electricity, renewables and the environment. The conference features over 20 speakers.

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