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Editorial comment

With the door opening on September, it seems to hold an element of majesty and change. For some readers, this month may mark the beginning of new studies at university or the commencement of internships, whilst for some it is the opportunity to wipe the dust from our long-forgotten passports and venture to Dubai, UAE, for some industry networking at the Gastech exhibition and conference. For myself, the majesty comes from the exhilarating prospect of boarding a flight, and the change relates to our departure of working from home and the return of office life.

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With Gastech’s theme centred on driving the gas, LNG, and energy industry towards a cleaner energy future, it ties in suitably with the hot-off-the-press report from DNV – ‘Energy Transitions Outlook 2021’ – which offers a stark, perhaps disheartening view of the world’s energy system. I use the word disheartening because the report dictates how in its fifth year of publishing its findings, the forecast has minimally changed since the very first forecast in 2017.

Though four years may seem like a miniscule space in time, DNV expresses concern that progress in the energy transition has scarcely picked up pace, yet at a time when the influences of climate change are more evident and frightening than ever before. A quick scan of recent headlines from across the globe just reinforces this heightened visibility of climate change – from the devastating wildfires engulfing Greece and California, US, to a heat dome in Canada, and rapid flooding in Germany and Belgium, the list could continue. DNV’s outlook illustrates how the presence of fossil fuels in the global energy mix will slowly lose their position over time, though retain 50% of the mix in 2050. This figure is down from the 80% share that fossil fuels have been accustomed to holding for many years, but at least represents activity in the energy transition. Of the fossil fuel supply, natural gas will take its place as the leader, taking over oil, and representing 24% of global energy supply in 2050. Unlike all the other fossil fuels which have been forecast to decline gradually over the period in question, natural gas will hold fort, only decreasing in the 2040s.

Focusing on the maritime industry, the outlook provides much information on how low and zero-carbon fuels will displace up to 42% of the oil used in shipping, with natural gas (mainly LNG) holding a 39% share. Switching to alternative fuels, and powering LNG fleets in a greener manner, is a topic discussed by many in this month’s issue. GTT (p.20) examines the options available for the maritime industry to improve its sustainability; LISCR (p.26) consider the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) agenda and how it shall shape the industry; and Sempra LNG (p.36) considers the route to decarbonisation, not to mention a whole suite of other splendid articles.

Since I can’t seem to write a piece without mentioning the eternal presence of COVID-19, the Energy Transitions Outlook 2021 sheds a sombre light on how this has affected the industry. Whilst from my perspective, the industry has focused on the accomplishments and attempts to adapt and thrive in these weird times – whether it be new digital technologies to allow remote monitoring or innovative training schemes to keep workers informed and knowledgeable – the DNV report explains how, realistically, the pandemic has been somewhat of a lost opportunity, a time when the industry missed the mark. For many, the focus was on protection rather than transformation. This is not a blanket statement. Many exceptions do exist, and from the hive of activity and energy transition plans that are littered throughout this month’s issue, let’s focus on that positivity.

Please feel free to pick up a copy of the issue or have a chat with us at Gastech, Dubai, where we will be exhibiting at Booth 2F79.