Economist Films: New Power Generation Disrupting Oil and Gas Industry

Economist Films, part of the renowned magazine The Economist, has produced a documentary investigating how new energy technologies are disrupting the fossil fuel industry. The last part of the documentary shows how the offshore wind technology has advanced and how oil and gas companies are using their offshore expertise to tap into opportunities within the sector.

Image: Statoil
Image: Statoil
Image: Statoil

With permission from The Economist, Offshore WIND is sharing the full documentary below, a part of series named “The Disrupters.”

Economist Films investigates the energy industry by looking at the groundbreaking disrupters successfully generating and distributing renewable power sources, helping to cause a momentous wave of disruption to a five trillion dollar industry.

Coal, oil and gas controls over 80% of the world’s energy requirements. The fossil fuel companies once controlled the monopoly, until now. After the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015, 195 countries legally agreed to reduce carbon emissions, the industry is now looking at alternative, sustainable methods of power. But it’s the energy disrupters who are leading the way in innovation.

The disrupters includes a tiny village in Bavaria, Germany fuelled by solar power and other renewable energy and Sonnen, a dynamic company that has developed a home battery system enabling people to store solar energy for later use. The energy giants include E.ON, the biggest energy giant who has seen its share price fall by over three quarters and Statoil, one of Norwegian’s biggest oil and gas players.

Statoil struck it rich in the late 60s and are now attempting to make fossil fuel production cleaner by reducing their carbon footprint. Irene Rummelhoff, Exec. VP New Energy Solutions, says in the film: “We have an ambition to become the most carbon efficient oil and gas producer in the world. The world will look for companies like ourselves that take a proactive stand on this and who deliver oil and gas to the world but doing it in a sustainable manner.”

Statoil’s business still relies on the harmful burning of fossil fuels by its customers. However, it’s the customers who are the key energy users which is why the pioneering village in Bavaria is leading the way in providing renewable energy to each of its residents.

The deputy Mayor of Bavaria, Gunter Mogele, has helped drive efforts to create a renewable energy village. As well as solar power, the village is also powered by one renewable energy that never disappears and is sourced from the decay of virtually any organic matter called Biogas. Since combining the different energy sources this small village generates five times more energy than it needs.

To help this community store this excess energy, a young company called Sonnen, has helped create the first of its kind storage battery systems for the residential market to use solar power regardless of weather.

Christoph Ostermann, Founder & CEO of Sonnen, comments: “Our battery systems are online and we can recognise in real time who is currently feeding power into the grid and who still needs power. Our customers can literally replace the traditional utilities to one hundred per cent and go independent.”

The disrupters now have the attention of the big players, forcing them to rethink their business. E.ON was on the most lucrative energy giants of its time, but now its income has fallen by more than a third since 2008. Recently, the company decided to do something drastic to their declining business.

Johannes Teyssen, CEO of E.ON said: “E.ON has taken a brave step. We broke the company in 2. All the commodity businesses, the traditional fossil power plants, we spin off into a company called Uniper and we are remaining with the renewables.”

It’s not just E.ON shaking things up, other energy giants are getting on board on this renewable revolution. Shell, Exxon and Total are looking at a range of investments in biofuel, batteries, solar and wind.

Related: Oil & Gas Companies to Cause Clash of Giants in Offshore Wind?