Energy, society and technology under debate

The ongoing energy transition process comprises three decisive components and the interaction among them was the topic under debate at the Portugal Energy conference held by the Portuguese Energy Association. The event was backed and attended by Galp, among other stakeholders from the sector

We are living in a time of major changes in the energy sector. The transition from fossil fuels to “clean” energies is essential to achieving both the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and the greater goal of mitigating climate change. However, this will not be without a little “suffering”, an example of which is the huge amount of investment in innovation and technology, which has given rise to differing rates of transition among the signatory countries to the 2015 Paris Agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the meantime, we need to deal with the current energy crisis, which has been exacerbated by the ever-increasing consumption of energy (which has risen by more than 60% in the last 30 years), the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine. These factors have exposed weaknesses such as price uncertainty and security of supply, thus evoking the urgent need to speed up the energy transition globally.

What challenges lie ahead? What is the relationship between technological innovation and decarbonisation? What is the role of companies in the sector? These and other topics were up for debate at the Portugal Energy Conference, an initiative created by the Portuguese Energy Association (APE), which returned to an in-person format and a full house in the Almada Negreiros room at the Belem Cultural Centre in late November.


The opening speech was delivered by the Secretary of State for the Environment and Energy, João Galamba, who guaranteed that “Portugal is at the forefront, and our government is committed to speeding up energy transition” through our ongoing investments in renewable energies and the development of hydrogen and biomethane (gas derived from biogas), which are believed to be transforming elements for the future.

João Galamba highlighted Portugal's commitment to energy transition through investment in renewable energies and the development of hydrogen and biomethane

The first of the topics to be discussed was the environmental and social sustainability of the energy sector, addressed by Wytse Kaastra, Sustainability Services Europe Lead at Accenture, who said that “we are living in unprecedented times with regard to energy and the inherent effects on our economy, meaning we have to be more resilient and independent, guaranteeing security of supply. The good news is that Europe has made enormous advances in the field of renewable energy, the investments have been made, the technology exists, and now it's just a matter of scaling it up to make it cheaper. All the pieces of the puzzle are on the table, but there is still a lot of work to be done”.

This session was followed by the panel on technological innovation and decarbonisation, in which issues related to renewable gases, hydrogen, biofuels and storage were discussed, among others.


João Bernardo, Managing Director at the Directorate-General for Energy and Geology, introduced the third panel, dedicated to the strategic challenges facing energy companies. He provided an overview of the course of energy transition since the 1970s and what was happening before that, and spoke about the role of Europe in leading the decarbonisation process. “Europe has every interest in energy transition, not only as a means of gaining greater independence but also due to the opportunities it provides to create qualified jobs”, he said, while drawing attention to the importance of Member States concentrating on strategies designed to reduce their dependence on other countries for the supply of critical materials, citing the example of neodymium and others to support their development and industry.

The Galp CEO once again highlighted the need to decarbonise the future as quickly as possible

The third and final panel, dedicated to the strategic challenges facing energy companies, was made up of the CEOs of EDP, REN and Galp. According to Andy Brown, Galp, as an energy company, is fully aware of its responsibility to ensure that energy transition is managed in a responsible, inclusive and sustainable manner. To this end, the company has been working to guarantee the supply of traditional fuels and energy in the most sustainable possible manner, while focusing on remodeling its portfolio, prioritising renewable energies, sustainable fuels, such as biofuels and hydrogen, and essential components such as lithium for the battery value chain. Society, the government and companies, concludes the Galp CEO, “need to work together in the implementation of the energy transition. We all need to play our part in this process in order to keep our economies running today, but also to decarbonise our future as quickly as possible, thereby taking care of our planet”.