Iain Conn offers new perspective on energy sector revolution

Centrica Group Chief Executive Iain Conn shared his views on the unprecedented changes in the energy sector at this year's Brussels Forum, a gathering of European and US leaders.

Addressing the 2018 Brussels Forum, Iain spoke about revolutions in the energy, transport and technology sectors and how they impact societies and the economy.

Speaking on the subject of ‘Synchronising Technological Revolutions’, Iain underlined three key trends impacting the energy sector: the decentralisation of the energy system; the shifting of power to the customer; and digitisation.

He went on to describe these changes. “There are distributed energy management platforms using blockchain, local energy markets, demand-response capability, the connected home... All of this means that there is a revolution in energy and the associated services to support it. It’s revolution, not evolution”.

These trends create opportunities for greater efficiency of the energy system (for example through reduced carbon emissions and energy costs) and for customers, who are being empowered by technology like never before. These trends also come with risks that need to be managed, such as data privacy and cybersecurity.

Iain also stressed the likely impact of digitisation on employment, and the need to re-skill the workforce fast enough to cope with the pace of transformation. In conclusion, he stressed that new collaborative relationships will be needed between governments and businesses to help societies and communities manage these transitions.

The German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum took place against the backdrop of transatlantic trade tensions, rising populism on both sides of the Atlantic and new security threats. The ambition of the Forum is to promote transatlantic cooperation, share experiences and contribute ideas that can be put in practice by governments and businesses.