AWS Energy Symposium Focuses on Energy Transition

By Mark Sen Gupta

Company and Product News

Transform, Innovate, & Accelerate throughout the Energy Transition

The positioning of the symposium held in Houston, was “the future of energy is now”. Truly, what we do now Energy Transitioncertainly determines our future. The transition to other energy sources is certainly top-of-mind. It is being pushed by the media, by governments, large institutional investors, and the public. The energy transition and the pace of innovation in the energy sector is accelerating. In attending the AWS Energy Symposium, I can attest that it catered to executives, professionals, and technical leaders and builders across the energy and utilities industry who seek strategies to aid and accelerate their companies’ energy transition.

Energy Transition and Sustainability and Overcoming the Challenges

Energy and utilities executives shared their transformational journeys with cloud technology. The event delivered in showing how organizations are transforming their industry and the innovations that can help attendees improve their own organization’s performance, accelerate innovation, transform their customer experience, maximize safety, and minimize their carbon footprint.

Just a quick summary of the event: Howard Gefen, General Manager, Energy & Utilities, with AWS opened the event and highlighted that the world is expected to need 50 percent more energy than currently available in the short-term. This means more energy production and more efficient energy use is needed.

Arthur Hanna, Senior Advisor to the World Energy Council provided the keynote on Reinventing Energy. At a high level, he called this a “moment of moments.” Basically, a confluence of different forces at the perfect time to affect all markets. He then stated, “Welcome to the new different.” His point being that there will be no return to “normal.” He also noted that this is the first time in history that a G20 country has been disconnected from the global economy. Energy is not binary and energy transition happens quickly. Business models need to change just as rapidly and accommodate the changing worker talent landscape.

Mr. Hanna was followed by a panel discussion on “Designing Your Organization for Digital Transformation and Sustainability.” Arno van den Haak, Head WW Business Development Energy with AWS moderated and Bill Rothe, VP, Information Technology, Hilcorp; Brandon Brown, VP and CTO, Laredo Petroleum; Naveen Pandrangi, GM Refining and Midstream Digital Business Systems, Phillips 66 were panel members. A couple of themes from the panel centered on the need for greater visibility and to adapt to the need for new digital skillsets. One mention was that IT needed to be seen as a partner instead of a service. They also emphasized on the need to have a culture of learning and curiosity which requires time and money, so the accountants would not be too happy. They mentioned that companies need to work to get value from the data, and not just collect it. Something that caused an audible gasp in the room was when Mr. Pandrangi said that companies need to be willing to replace operational technology more frequently just like information technology.

Raoul LeBlanc, VP North American Unconventionals with S&P Global followed up on the topic of Energy Security. He noted that the market has an embedded construct around cheap energy, and the challenge is this cheap energy touches everything. He also noted that companies took so much “fat” out of the supply chain that it became extremely susceptible to upsets just like we are witnessing.

Next, a panel discussion on the topic of “Energy Transition and Sustainability Across The Energy & Utilities Value Chain” was held. Rolf Gibbels, Head WW Power & Utilities of AWS moderated panelists: Matt Pawlowski, Executive Director Business Management and Regulatory Affairs, NextEra; Steve Deskevich, Executive VP Products, GE Digital; and David Rabley, Energy Transition and Sustainability Global Lead for Energy, Accenture. They discussed the need to consider the supply chain in its entirety. They highlighted the need to focus on optimization over uptime for sustainability, which is an interesting focus because customers will notice a drop in uptime. They also noted how government regulation held up new projects for as much as five years.

There was a roadmap presentation that presented solutions for companies that want to buy cloud solutions, those that want to build their own, and a hybrid approach. AWS has created a number of solutions and made them available in a marketplace for energy and utilities from which customers can choose.

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