The future of energy supply

Initial results of Delphi Energy Future 2040 study presented

How will the energy systems in Germany, Europe and around the world change by 2040? This broad question is addressed for the first time by the international ‘Delphi Energy Future 2040’ study, a joint project of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft e.V. – BDEW), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Which technological and social developments will fundamentally change the energy markets? Will Germany be able to benefit economically and politically from its role as an energy transition pioneer in the long term? The Delphi energy study examines these and other questions. Interviews were conducted with over 350 energy experts from more than 40 countries whose backgrounds spanned all areas of business, academia and politics. The initial results are now available and were presented today in Berlin by Hildegard Müller, Chairperson of the BDEW General Executive Management Board, Tanja Gönner, Chair of the GIZ Management Board, and Dr Norbert Schwieters, Global Power & Utilities Leader at PwC.

The majority of the experts interviewed (over 60 per cent) believe that by 2040 the international community will have agreed and began implementing binding targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions. According to the study, one of the drivers of effective climate change mitigation is the global expansion of renewable energies. Eighty per cent think that renewable energies will be the most cost-effective alternative for generating power in the future.

The experts interviewed largely agree on another point: over the next two decades, Europe will establish harmonised domestic energy policies and an effective internal energy market on the basis of a high-performance cross-border infrastructure. In addition, the majority of the experts consider it likely that Germany will be the world’s leading country in terms of the management and technology of energy systems based primarily on renewable energy sources. At the same time, many of them believe that China will be the world’s largest developer of renewable energy technologies in 2040. This means that competition could soon emerge for technology leadership in the future – competition for which countries need to start preparing today.

Other results of the study predict that conventional power stations will become smaller and more flexible and that consumers, in turn, will become more flexible in terms of their demand – for example, by means of demand side management. The interviewed experts have differing views on whether consumers in future will have to purchase security of supply as a separate service, which would mean assigning it a price. What is clear is that the companies will have to restructure their business models with a strong focus on the customer. In addressing these and many other questions the Delphi study aims to offer guidance to companies, policymakers and society.

The final results of the study will be published at the beginning of 2016.