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Experts: New talent needed for transition to renewable energy

Experts: New talent needed for transition to renewable energy

29 Jun 2023

Despite commitments, advancing technology and adequate funding, the current state of the workforce in the energy industry poses a significant barrier to effectively and efficiently transitioning towards net-zero energy systems, says an expert.

Boston Consulting Group chief executive officer Christoph Schweizer said there is a considerable gap in the workforce to successfully accomplish the commitments made towards achieving net-zero emissions.

In order to achieve a net-zero scenario by 2030, he said it would be necessary to create about 30 million new jobs worldwide.

In particular, Schweizer said Malaysia would require 200,000 new jobs.

“I don’t think any education system and energy companies around the world are currently set up to deliver on that number,” he said during a plenary session titled “Transforming Talent: Creating Asia’s Energy Workforce of the Future” at Energy Asia 2023.

Experts also believe that the challenges facing energy companies in achieving this significant workforce requirement include the need for new profiles with expertise in renewable energy and the retention of skilled professionals for existing gas power plants while motivating them to transition.

Schweizer highlighted the necessity of fostering general workforce awareness and upskilling in climate and sustainability to ensure comprehensive education and action.

Meanwhile, another panellist, PETRONAS group human resource management senior vice-president Farehana Hanapiah pointed out that by 2050, Asia’s fast growing population is expected to have three billion people in the working age group.

However, she believes that attracting new talent to the renewable energy sector can be challenging, as it requires educating, reskilling and transitioning from other industries.

Farehana brings attention to the shortage of sustainability experts and expresses the need for diverse thinking to generate better solutions.

She acknowledged the importance of providing the younger generation with the necessary education and opportunities to access high-value jobs.

Rather than relying on external assistance, Farehana emphasised the need to focus on internal resources and capabilities within Asia.

“It is a challenging task, but I think we need to look at some of the opportunities that we can create from this demographic,” she said during a plenary session moderated by RME Media and Communications television anchor and event host Rebecca McLaughlin-Eastham.

Similarly, Schlumberger East Asia managing director Meng Keong Lee suggests that it is the collective responsibility of everyone to impress upon the younger generation about the importance of addressing climate change and achieving sustainability goals.

He emphasised the need to recruit, retain and redeploy individuals, which requires investments in retraining programmes.

“While traditional engineering skills are still important, businesses need to supplement them with diverse competencies,” he said.

Ernst and Young Global Ltd people advisory services leader Norman Lonergan, on the other hand, believes humans will have to be at the centre of the transformation process towards a cleaner economy.

Separately, discussing on “Greening the Grid”, CEO of PETRONAS-owned clean energy solutions provider Gentari Sdn Bhd Sushil Purohit said while a comprehensive approach is required, policies play a critical role in expediting decarbonisation.

“We require country and regional level policies to establish a stable and supportive environment for investors to make sustainable investments,” he said during another plenary session moderated by S&P Global research and analysis director Chengyao Peng.

He believes these policies should facilitate the adoption and development of new and cleaner technologies by providing incentives and support.

Additionally, Sushil highlighted that an interconnected grid in Asean could enable a lot within the region.

This view is echoed by an expert in renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency ENGIE Services Malaysia managing director, Wong Yin Kee, who believes that Malaysia’s lifting of the RE export ban is the way to go, citing that it is a win-win situation for both energy providers and consumers.

Meanwhile, H2GO Power Ltd co-founder and CEO Enass Abo-Hamed noted that due to hydrogen’s characteristic of not emitting carbon dioxide, it is essential to introduce policies that encourage the adoption and integration of hydrogen into economies.

“Such policies can have a broader ripple effect globally, encouraging widespread adoption and utilisation of hydrogen as a clean energy source,” she said.

Sushil believes that the hydrogen economy may initially be more expensive, and therefore, incentives are needed to facilitate its development.

“These incentives can be provided either on the production (supply) side or the demand side,” he added.

While the Asian region transitions away from coal, Sushil believes that gas will play a significant role as an intermediate step before moving towards an even cleaner energy source.

The inaugural Energy Asia was attended by more than 4,500 delegates, over 100 speakers and 46 sponsors representing 19 industries from across 27 countries.

There were 10,000 visitors to the Energy Asia exhibitions.

Source: The Star