WEF 2013: powering a clean energy future

Sustainable energy is key to our livelihoods and future. During the Swiss Re-sponsored WEF lunch debate, "Powering a clean energy future," panelists highlighted opportunities for growth, and possible pitfalls, on the path to renewable energy.

The insurance industry can play an important role in paving the way towards clean energy projects. That was one of the key themes discussed at the Swiss Re lunch debate.

"Insurance is likely to play a greater role in the future of clean energy projects as they become larger and more complex due to harsher operational environments", Swiss Re Corporate Solutions CEO Agostino Galvagni said.

"Sound risk management will be critical to secure funding, as companies seek to expand their investments in the sector, and insurers can provide proven risk transfer solutions across the entire value chain which protect against construction, operational, and even weather-related losses."

Partnership essential for low-carbon progress

Delegates from the energy, finance and infrastructure sectors attended the 25 January event in Davos during the WEF 2013 Annual Meeting. The debate was held in conjunction with the release of Building a sustainable energy future, a Swiss Re publication presenting six scenarios for future power supply mixes in 2050, taking into account financial, political and societal factors.

The report also analyses the possible effect of low-carbon options, such as renewable energy sources, on climate change. During the session, Swiss Re Group CEO Michel Liès highlighted the dual role of the insurance industry in making these options a reality.

"The insurance industry needs to work with stakeholders to promote low carbon emission power production, and to provide a risk management framework for clean energy projects which allows investors to become comfortable with investing into such projects."

Solar Impulse: clean energy in action

Initiator, Chairman and Pilot of the Solar Impulse project, Bertrand Piccard, discussed his current project during the debate. The solar-powered aircraft was designed to prove that progress is possible using clean forms of energy and can fly day or night powered only by four electric motors.

"The aim of the Solar Impulse project is to promote clean energy technologies and to convey positive emotions; we want to demonstrate that by using existing energy technologies a lot can be achieved to help fight climate change."

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions is the official insurance provider for Solar Impulse. Both share the same aspiration: to advance the search for clean and safe alternative energy sources.

Sound regulatory policies needed

According to panelists, growth will continue in the renewable energy sector due to factors such as the political landscape, the advancement of clean technology and consumer demand. But even with these expectations, uncertainty around investment incentives and feed-in tariffs could be obstacles. Stable regulatory policy will be a crucial driver for future growth.

"Clean energy investment declined in 2012, primarily due to policy changes in some markets. Authorities need to act faster to remove regulatory uncertainty," said Michael Liebreich, CEO Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Published 4 February 2013

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WEF 2013: powering a clean energy future lunch debate

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