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Energy Transition Stands at Critical Juncture

Industry Leaders in Rotterdam Outline Challenges to Be Overcome

By Emma Dailey

The future of the renewables and energy transition sectors stands at a critical juncture, facing significant challenges that must be addressed to unlock their full potential, delegates were told during a main stage session at Breakbulk Europe.

During the session What’s Next for the Energy Transition Market? a panel of industry leaders highlighted the complexities and potential of this rapidly evolving market.

Rafael Vicens, head of global projects and industry solutions for the Middle East and Africa at DB Schenker Middle East, opened the discussion with an optimistic vision: “What we can see is that there is a will, worldwide, to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.” However, he quickly noted the hurdles, particularly the scarcity of raw materials necessary for these ambitious projects.

Sharanya Kumaramuthy, market intelligence manager at the Energy Industry Council (EIC), delved into the economic constraints, emphasizing the impact of inflation on costs. “Individually, the sectors are facing the challenge of cost,” she stated, pointing out that streamlined permitting processes and port availability are crucial yet insufficiently addressed. Kumaramuthy also warned of potential bottlenecks due to a lack of specialized vessels, particularly as the offshore industry scales up in terms of project size.

Jaap-Jan Pietersen, managing director at Combifloat Group, highlighted the geopolitical and resource-based challenges encountered across the globe. “We’re all fighting for the same resources,” he observed, stressing the need for a coordinated supply chain to meet the growing demands. Pietersen expressed a pragmatic approach: “We need to get things sorted, so that all of us in the supply chain can start to deliver.”

From a logistical perspective, Mauro Varela, global logistics proposal, purchasing and commodity manager at Tecnicas Reunidas, offered a comprehensive view of the sector’s development. “This transition has to happen, we do not have the option of living on Mars,” he said, underscoring the urgency of the situation. Varela pointed out the promising yet slow-moving nature of current projects: “Things are not moving fast right now, but we are picking up the pace.”

Kumaramuthy emphasized the necessity for collaboration, both within and between countries, to address these issues. “The investments and the projects are ready and waiting,” she said. “These opportunities just need more support.” She also highlighted the importance of workforce development, noting positive changes such as the increase in apprenticeships to address labor force shortages.

The panel agreed that while the private sector plays a crucial role, governmental support is indispensable. As Varela put it, “At a certain point, governments will understand that they need to help, rather than prevent.” The consensus was clear: to realize the full potential of the energy transition, a concerted effort from all stakeholders is essential.

This session was sponsored by JAS Projects.