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The Energy Transition Journey

 Dele Fajimolu
Senior Executive, Technical Underwriting

Pressure is mounting to find and use renewable energy supplies to fuel a more sustainable future. This is a universal challenge for all sectors, as we transition away from traditional fossil fuels to reduce emissions. Underwriters have a role to play as they acknowledge a necessary process that is far from straightforward. Achieving this transition entails understanding a complex interplay of technological innovation, regulatory frameworks, global co-operation and societal adaptation. Embracing the multifaceted nature of this transition will be crucial as businesses juggle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The necessity of transition

At the heart of the transition to renewable energy is the urgent need to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and reduce our dependence on finite fossil fuel resources. Renewable energy sources offer a promising alternative, but their widespread adoption requires overcoming various hurdles. The role of underwriters is to predict and integrate these challenges into model wording development, as well as to undertake research and consensus-building in these complex areas of the market. It is important that carriers utilise the collective experience of their colleagues, market resources and harness data collection to provide solutions to mitigate these challenges.

Challenges along the way

One of the greatest challenges arises at the very start of the supply chain. The sourcing of many materials essential for renewable energy technologies continues to be a major obstacle. Take the extraction of lithium for batteries used in solar panels and electric vehicles, for example. At present, removing the minerals involves mining, a notoriously damaging process for the environment. While some countries have been able to use green mining technologies and scientists are continuing to find alternative methods for extraction, the reality of obtaining the materials continues to raise environmental concerns and highlight the complexities inherent in the transition process.

Transitioning away from fossil fuels also involves more than just embracing renewable energy sources. It also requires significant investments in heavy industry and infrastructure, including energy-intensive steel production and other mining operations. In the next seven years, the supply of sustainable energy is expected to double . The rapid expansion of energy capacity brings its own set of challenges, ranging from logistical complexities to potential accidents and setbacks. Insurers will need to tackle these uncertainties and prepare for the evolving risk landscape associated with the energy transition.

Regulatory and governance considerations

Government regulations and ESG governance play a crucial role in facilitating the energy transition. Policies aimed at incentivising renewable energy adoption and mitigating environmental impacts are essential for driving progress. Setting the required regulatory landscape can be complex, requiring a balance between economic incentives and environmental stewardship to encourage the uptake of renewable energy sources of production and generation. In many jurisdictions, subsidies for mining of raw materials and technological innovation are necessary to accelerate the transition process and ensure widespread adoption of renewable energy solutions.

Patchwork of global readiness

While the required journey to renewable energy transition is a global one, readiness levels vary among differing regions and countries. Some regions, such as Scandinavia and parts of Southern Europe, have made significant strides in renewable energy adoption. However, others lag, highlighting the need for a more collective global response. Addressing regional disparities and fostering collaboration among nations are vital steps towards achieving meaningful progress in the transition to renewable energy.

Market implications and risk management

The global need and growth of the industry have led to rapid advancements in the technology supporting the energy market. This can clearly be seen through the massive scale in size and power production of on/offshore wind turbines, which has increased significantly in the last few years. From a single wind turbine being the size of a small building, to now exceeding the height of the Statue of Liberty as a standard. As the technology evolves, insurance risks expand in tandem.  While bigger turbines mean greater power generation and energy provision, they also represent more challenges for the industry.

The transition to renewable energy has significant implications for the insurance industry and risk management practices. As renewable energy infrastructure expands, insurers must be aware of new challenges, including technological advancements and the occurrence of even more extreme weather events due to the warming the transition is attempting to stall. We at the Lloyd’s Market Association and in the industry play a key role in providing education about these risks to the wider market, as well as risk mitigation strategies. Both are paramount in navigating this evolving risk landscape and ensuring the resilience of renewable energy projects.

Investment and technological innovation

Substantial investments in renewable energy infrastructure and technological innovation will be crucial for driving progress in the transition to clean energy. Recent advancements in battery technology, such as compact batteries, battery storage and fast charging, developed by institutions like Harvard University and the University of Cambridge, hold promise for energy storage and transportation. There is significant opportunity for the insurance market to bridge the gap between technological innovation and widespread adoption, which requires sustained investment and collaboration across each sector.

The transition to renewable energy adoption is complex, but by fostering collaboration, embracing innovation and adopting forward-thinking policies, the insurance sector can assist in paving the way for a sustainable energy production future.