Energy Transitions 2018

Leadership in a climate of disruptive change

19 Mar 2018 - 09:30 to 20 Mar 2018 - 13:30
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Chatham House, London


Transformational change and technological innovation coupled with recent political transitions have caused many to reassess the most important drivers and steps on the road towards affordable, reliable and sustainable energy internationally. 

Increasingly, hydrocarbon producers are adapting their business models, utilities are adopting new practices and infrastructures, and downstream technologies are empowering consumers towards greater efficiencies. Progress is clear, but questions remain across the energy supply chain with regard to the most effective measures, the respective roles of different actors, and the specific obstacles that economies and sectors will face in the transition to a low carbon future. 

In this context, the third annual Chatham House Energy Transitions conference will bring together leading policy-makers, business leaders and industry experts to explore: 

  • How does the world access and use energy?  Where can different technological innovations be most effectively harnessed?  What are the risks? 
  • What impact will recent political transitions have on future global energy governance? In its absence, what are the opportunities for alternative leadership? 
  • Where in the energy supply chain is there the greatest potential for gains, across producers, distributors and consumers? How can these gains be practically realised? 
  • Which measures are most effective in closing the investment gap? 
  • Is full electrification realisable? Is it desirable? 
  • How can governments and businesses facilitate transitions whilst causing minimal disruption? What are the implications across competitiveness, resource stability and growth?

The Chatham House Rule 
To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.


Monday 19 March

Session One | A Global Challenge

This opening session will examine whether there is a gap in global energy governance and, if so, whether it can be bridged, exploring potential avenues for cooperation between developed and developing countries as well as government and industry actors.  

  • What have recent experiences demonstrated about the effectiveness of multilateral energy policy? 
  • Can energy policy keep pace with the emergence of major developing nations? How do regional perceptions of key issues vary?
  • In the context of upcoming and ongoing political transitions, who should provide leadership on global energy governance reform? 
  • In what ways will the Trump administration define the speed and shape of energy transitions?
  • How has Brexit affected the European initiative to create an integrated energy market and collaboration on energy policy more generally? 
  • Should industry actors take an active lead, and to what extent is the private sector a key player?

Session Two | The Geopolitics of the Shift to Renewables

This session will assess the global implications of transitioning from hydrocarbons to renewables in terms of the winners and losers, price and availability of energy sources as well as future resource demand. 

  • How will the move away from hydrocarbons impact different industries in developed and developing economies? Who stands to gain most from rapidly growing low-carbon energy sectors? 
  • How are hydrocarbon producers responding to the emergence of new energy actors and technologies? How can international oil companies (IOCs) adapt their business models to ongoing trends? 
  • Have renewables reached a tipping point globally in terms of cost-effectiveness? What viable measures can fossil fuel rich countries employ to offset the lost contribution of hydrocarbons to economic growth? 
  • Is there likely to be a shift in focus from concern around security of supply for oil and gas to reliability of supply for electricity? What are the implications for global energy governance?

Session Three | The Future Shape of the Electricity Sector

This session will explore the emerging electrification trend that is shaping the global energy system, examining further steps needed to consolidate it and the implications for maximizing energy efficiencies. 

  • Is the era of large-scale power plants coming to an end? Is distributed generation a game changer and can microgrids provide access for all? 
  • How is power delivered via smart grid infrastructure? Can new blockchain technology be deployed to transform grid interaction and enhance connectivity? 
  • How will ongoing shifts in political and policy structures affect the development of a competitive power sector? What does this mean for utilities? 
  • Is affordable electricity storage close? Can this help resolve intermittent generation problems and provide additional flexibility to the power system?
  • Is 100% electrification feasible and/or desirable? What are the implications of the diffusion of electrification into functions such as heating and cooling, infrastructure and transport? 

Session Four | Mapping the Road for Electric Vehicles

This session will focus on the future of electric vehicles (EVs), exploring technological innovations, potential regulatory frameworks and implications for resource stability.

  • Is government fostering innovation or are advances in battery technology facilitating policy changes? 
  • Will new legislation banning petrol and diesel vehicles accelerate the shift to EVs?
  • Is mass market adoption around the corner? What do recent experiences indicate about the role of policy?
  • Should ensuring the adoption of mass smart charging infrastructure be a priority now? If not, will peak demands on the electricity network inhibit adoption?
  • Could the cost and scarcity of critical metals prove a major hurdle for manufacturing EVs? What are the social and environmental costs in the developing world where the raw materials for batteries are mined?
  • Will the impact of EVs on oil demand create further instability in oil-producing countries?

17:00 Close of day one and reception hosted by Chatham House

Tuesday 20 March

Session Five | Closing the Investment Gap

This session will assess the nature of the investment gap and consider the opportunities and risks associated with new regulations, transparency initiatives and scaling up low-carbon energy finance.

  • In the context of ongoing economic uncertainty, how are priorities changing? Is there a perceived trade-off between ensuring commercial competitiveness and moving towards low-carbon energy? What is the relative importance of reputational concerns, consumer expectations and investor confidence? 
  • What impact will the growing trend towards climate-related financial risk disclosures by companies have on energy sector investment? Will this approach also be adopted in emerging economies, where most investment will take place?
  • How can capital allocation be expedited effectively during the transition? Should stakeholders align measures such as foreign direct investment strategies, climate risk disclosures, energy subsidy reform and the expansion of carbon pricing? Is it ineffective to think of these in terms of silos? 
  • How are legislative changes and political transitions affecting investment decisions? What is the role of policy mechanisms for incentivizing private sector investment in enabling renewables? 
  • Are there opportunities for de-risking finance with public–private partnerships or is a subsidy-free future now in reach for a number of technologies and geographies as costs continue to fall? 

Session Six | Shifting Perceptions

This panel discussion will assess the views of industry, policy and public actors in energy to explore how perceptions will continue to change and their relative importance for driving transitions globally.  

  • What do political trends indicate about how energy issues are prioritized globally? Is a paradigm shift under way in the developing world? How can this inform future strategy?
  • To what extent have millennials come to embrace the sustainable energy transition? Are they opening up new opportunities for a decarbonized energy future? 
  • Are customer relationships with the energy sector being redefined? Can technological innovations and digital tools that enable demand-side response help empower consumers? 
  • Has there been a profound change in the public mood regarding energy in recent years? Will the conflict between a ‘black’ versus ‘green’ energy future shape the public debate on energy for a long time to come, and what could the dialogue look like? What are the alternatives?

13:30 End of conference

© The Royal Institute of International Affairs 2017

Pricing and booking information 

Register by Friday 26 January 2018 to benefit from the early booking rate.

Ways to book:

  1. Phone: Call Georgia Dalton on +44 (0)20 7314 2785
  2. Online: Click here to complete the online registration form


Partners and major corporate members  
All organizations£545£645
Standard corporate members  
Commercial organizations£1,190£1,390
Government departments£720£820
NGOs and academics£440£540
Commercial organizations£1,335£1,535
Government departments£810£920
NGOs and academics£490£595

Your delegate pass includes:

  • Conference attendance
  • Documentation
  • Lunch and refreshments

Travel and accommodation are not included. View a list of recommended hotels here.


If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, please contact Sandra Smits on+44 (0) 20 7314 3699

Media partners

If you are interested in becoming a media partner for this event, please contact 
Ayesha Arif on +44 (0)20 7957 5753


Chatham House
10 St James's Square
[email protected]

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7314 2785
Fax: +44 (0)20 7957 5710

If you wish to book the venue for your own event please phone +44 (0)20 7314 2764

The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus which is on the Piccadilly and the Bakerloo Underground lines. From Piccadilly follow Regent Street southwards towards Pall Mall and take the first road on the right called Jermyn Street. Duke of York Street is the second road on the left and leads to St James's Square. Chatham House is immediately on your right.


Although we cannot book accommodation for delegates, we have arranged a reduced rate at some nearby hotels, where you can book your own accommodation. Please inform the hotel that you will be attending a conference at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) to qualify for the Institute's reduced rate.

Please note all rates are subject to availability.

Flemings Mayfair
13 Half Moon Street
London - W1J 7BH

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7499 2964
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7499 1817
[email protected]

Classic Double without breakfast: £195 +VAT

The Cavendish London
81 Jermyn Street
London - SW1U 6JF

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7930 2111
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7839 2125
[email protected] 

Classic Room without breakfast: £205 +VAT

Book The Cavendish online

The Stafford London 
St James's Place
London - SW1A 1NJ

Tel: 020 7493 0111
Fax: 020 7493 7121
[email protected]

Classic Queen without breakfast: £247 +VAT
Quote Chatham House


Press registration

This conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule. Information for journalists.

Press can request a press pass.

Contact us 

For enquiries relating to the conference agenda or sponsorship please call Sandra Smits on +44 (0) 20 7314 3699

For registration enquiries please call Georgia Dalton on +44 (0)20 7314 2785

For general enquiries please email [email protected]