World Energy Congress 2010The Pulse Poll of the Energy stakeholders’ community at the WEC has turned up another interesting series of results in response to day two’s “Availability” challenge of how the global energy mix will develop by 2030. Here are a few that caught my eye:

45.9% of delegates believe that renewable energy (the clear top answer of 8 options) will gain the most in importance in the 2030 energy mix.

And of those renewable energies, Solar (31.4%) and Wind (28.4%) were very clearly the leading choices.

Finally, 56.5% (more than 3x higher than the 2nd choice answer) identified “new technologies” as being the single most important factor in helping the world keep up with growing energy demand.

Now when it comes to an optimized energy mix, we’re all very aware that there is no template for a universally sustainable mix that can be applied everywhere.

The key to finding the right mix for any and every region must be expertly tailored to the available resources of that area. And that means that although the focus of the above poll emphasises the integration of new renewable sources, what we cannot forget is that fossil fuels will rightly remain the backbone of our energy mix for many decades to come. In terms of creating an optimal energy mix, that means that it would be folly for a coal-rich region to abandon coal in favour of more expensive and remote renewable sources. That same region must instead concentrate on improving the energy-efficiency of its coal power plants with advanced technologies and look at upcoming Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) options to mitigate CO2 emissions. At the same time, it must also start to diversify its energy mix by integrating other sources such as renewable energies for the longer-term.

I had the very great pleasure to meet and discuss the “Availability” challenge with many of the WEC’s 200 Future Energy Leaders (FELs) today during the day. It seemed particularly appropriate to me that I was debating solutions to the challenge of how to create an optimal energy mix in the future with the very people who will undoubtedly be completing this task for us based on the decisions we take now. By the end of our discussions, we were all in agreement that most of the technologies required to deliver a sustainable global energy mix are already available today. It seemed to us that the biggest challenges still to overcome lie much more within the policy and financing framework at present.

I’ll be back tomorrow to share my views on day three’s WEC challenge – “Acceptability: Energy solutions for a living planet”.