The Energy Transition Forum: Generation/Delivery of Decarbonized Electricity to the Grid

Greenleaf’s board member John Jimison and his colleagues at the Energy Transition Forum (ETF), led by Founder Miriam Maes, convened in Chicago last month with international leadership from industry, governments, and academia to discuss challenges and solutions for a timely and responsible transition to a secure, low-carbon, affordable energy future. Participants included representatives from the White House, US Department of Energy, former energy ministers, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, North American Reliability Corporation, Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, US and European utilities and power & gas companies, Illinois Commerce Commission, Argonne National Laboratory, nuclear power companies, renewables and storage companies, digital and technology companies, financial and professional services, industries associations, NGOs, and academia.

Ambassador Ivo Daalder, President of Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Former US Ambassador to NATO provided the keynote speech on the geopolitical implications of the energy transition, emphasizing the effects of the war in Ukraine on European and global energy priorities. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shed light on the role of the IAEA, the latest developments around nuclear power in Ukraine and Iran, the role of nuclear power in decarbonizing the electricity supply, and the challenges around current and new nuclear technologies. Bob Litterman, Founder of Kepos Capital, presented on the international carbon reduction scorecard and carbon pricing policies, which average $18.50 globally compared to a social cost of carbon approaching $200 per metric tonne. This subsidy of fossil fuels estimated by some at $6 Trillion per year must end if we are to abate the worst of climate change being experienced now around the world. 

Discussions and takeaways from the conference focused on:

  1. The rise of nuclear energy including small scale applications and its contribution to meet decarbonized energy goals, and the technological, financial, geopolitical, societal challenges. One participant's portfolio alone would - with nuclear life extensions - produce as much as the entire solar and wind production in the United States for the past decade. 
  2. Large-scale renewables including solar, wind, geothermal, and batteries.
  3. Effective market design for policies to drive behavior and unlock capital flows.  The U.S. federal IRA and IIJA afford significant funds for the transition but the gap between policies and implementation is massive.  Subnational policies in states like Illinois, and  regions, and cities, can drive outcomes effectively and endure. 
  4. There is a political and economic imperative to apply systems thinking and design holistically across power producers, grid owners/operators, and supply chains - timing is urgent.
  5. Most retail consumers have had little involvement in choices around their energy consumption; that presents an opportunity for innovation. 
  6. Attracting and retaining top talent to the energy transition faces significant competition from alternative industries including tech.

The ETF provides a vital forum for energy leaders across the world to connect and share ideas within a collaborative environment.  Greenleaf was pleased to help bring this gathering to Chicago for the first time.  As a leader in the energy, finance, innovation, food, transportation, and technology industries, Chicago serves as the ideal backdrop for these important conversations. We are grateful to P33 and World Business Chicago for their participation as they steward regional innovation networks that are learning from and informing this global forum. We thank Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner for hosting the event and for their participation.

Posted in Energy.