The energy transition has been quite the topic in recent years, especially at the Offshore Technology Conference that took place this past May! Do you know what it is, though, and how the offshore energy industry is making the switch? In this post, we’ll cover the basics and more, including how technical writing can help energy organizations through their transitions with minimal hassle.
What is the Energy Transition?
The energy transition is “…the global energy sector’s shift from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption — including oil, natural gas and coal — to renewable energy sources.” These renewable or sustainable energy sources can include everything from wind to solar to lithium-ion batteries. It also includes a focus on electrification and energy storage improvement.
Energy companies are working toward this transition to meet new demands for net zero greenhouse gas emissions, including those established in the COP21 Paris Agreement in 2015. The goal of the Agreement is to cut back on fossil fuel production and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C by lowering carbon emissions.
What Does the Future Hold?
The effort to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and work toward zero carbon is becoming more prevalent as time goes on. However, not all companies and countries are doing their part to cut back on decarbonization, and this could pose problems for the future. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in March 2022 “…available technologies … must be realised by 2030 to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century.” According to IRENA, this energy transition is not currently on track.
Governments face several hurdles to accelerate a transition in the next eight years, requiring both political commitment and international cooperation. For example, a number of countries, including Japan, the United States, and Germany, are promising developing nations $100 billion each year for climate change migration funding.
However, some current statistics for the energy transition and renewable energy sources are noteworthy. Rystad Energy hosted the Energy Transition Marathon in May 2021, and began with a presentation on the “Global Energy System,” a complicated network that includes solar and wind at one end of the spectrum and natural gas, oil, and coal at the other. They believe energy from renewable sources would go from 7% to 18% by 2030, and to 48% in 2040 and 74% in 2050. They also predict that liquid hydrogen, and its derivatives, will make up 7% of the energy market come 2050.
What Are the Benefits of the Energy Transition?
Several benefits come along with an energy transition. Countries, cities, and companies could see:
- Increased green job creation (It’s expected that the renewable energy sector could produce 42 million jobs by 2050 [four times increase]).
- Improved energy efficiency
- Reduced dependence on energy imports
- New opportunities for businesses
- Lower susceptibility to energy price fluctuation
- Improved profits and added sources of profits
- Ability to stay competitive with other companies
- Reduced energy spending
In addition to lowering carbon emissions and helping fight climate change, more sustainable energy sources directly help the environment. Not only are these options inexhaustible and clean, but they also cut down on traditional energy waste, which needs proper treatment and disposal; improve air quality; and improve sustainability within communities.
Immense economic and socio-economic effects could also have an impact globally. Cutting back on the use of fossil fuels and other limited materials could reduce existing wealth imbalances among countries. And sustainability could improve social equality, ensure that countries can continue to develop their infrastructure, and directly improve the health and wellbeing of citizens.
How is the Offshore Energy Industry Transitioning?
Several companies, including those in the offshore oil and gas industries, are already making the switch to new energy sources or, at the very least, starting to explore the possibilities in search of the highest return and the best solutions for regional markets. These businesses have already set net-zero emissions targets and strategies, even in the face of economic challenges.
Here are just some examples of the steps companies are taking:
- ExxonMobil is working to explore carbon capture and storage and hydrogen production. They also plan to cut operating upstream greenhouse gas emissions by 15-20% by 2026, invest more in lower-emission technologies, and improve their energy policies.
- BP is working to develop a carbon capture project.
- Occidental Petroleum is aiming to “build a plant that will capture and bury 500,000 metric tons of CO2” a year.
- Shell and China National Offshore Oil Corporation are planning to import carbon-neutral liquefied natural gas cargoes.
What Challenges Are Offshore Companies Facing?
Substantial growth for the energy transition is expected in 2022, and senior leaders in the industry are most confident in renewables, low-carbon gas, supportive policy changes, and reform within their own companies. Even so, offshore companies face several challenges when it comes to the energy transition.
Leaders have said that the problems their businesses face that could impact or hamper their efforts include:
- Skills gaps and shortages
- Lack of policy support
- Problems with permits
- Licensing issues
- Investment complexities
- Changing operating models that help them stay competitive
- Supply chain problems
In fact, 66% of the leaders in the industry believe supply chain issues are slowing down energy transition. The problems could last another two years or longer if further coronavirus-related restrictions become necessary. The wind and solar industries, for example, are facing key commodity and freight costs that are around 15% of capital expenditures. The solar industry is also dealing with shortages of polysilicon, which is used for solar cells.
These challenges could lead to cancellation or at least postponement of projects , prolonged timeframes, or higher costs of transition.
How Can Technical Writing Services Help with the Energy Transition?
The challenges offshore energy companies face with energy transition are not all insolvable. Technical writing services can overcome several of these hurdles.. Here are just a few examples:
Technical Writing Can Help Close the Skills Gap
One pressing concern in the energy transition is the current shortage of skills in the renewable energy industry. Technical writing can help close this gap by creating documentation that both trains new employees and keeps tribal knowledge within the organization.
Onboarding materials, including employee handbooks, documentation, and training instructions, can help ensure that an energy company’s newest employees receive proper training on the same information and are up to date on the proper operating procedures in the company and the industry. Even senior employees can refer to the training materials and other documentation later if a question or problem arises.
And by documenting tribal knowledge, energy organizations can make sure they’re holding onto the information they need to keep operating smoothly even if a senior leader leaves the company. Word-of-mouth instructions, standard operating procedures, and other vital information won’t be lost if someone retires or leaves the company unexpectedly.
Technical Writing Provides Consistency of Policies and Branding
Technical writing can also assist with the creation and support of policies. After meeting with leaders in the energy company, technical writers can create standards that keep the organization’s goals in mind and work to support employees at the same time. Hiring a technical writing company can also ensure that these materials are consistent in language and format and with the company’s brand.
Technical Writing Can Solve Permitting and Licensing Problems
Technical writing companies with experience in the energy industry can assist companies with their permitting and licensing problems. These writing experts know what the government expects and can ensure thorough and correct completion of the proper forms the first time. This approach ensures that projects stay on schedule and on budget, without expensive repetition of paperwork and research.
As laws or policies change, technical writers can also work to send any new paperwork for official documents like permits and licenses, saving companies from headaches and potential fines.
Technical Writing Can Help Energy Companies Document Their Changing Operating Models
As operation models and procedures change with the transition, technical writers can ensure that documentation is keeping up with the adjustments. As policies and job descriptions change with the new work, it’s easy to update this documentation to reflect new instructions, safety concerns and actions, contact information, and emergency procedures.
How Can Shea Writing & Training Solutions Help with Your Company’s Energy Transition?
Shea Writing & Training Solutions can support your energy company as it transitions to renewable and sustainable energy sources. For over 25 years, we have been helping organizations like yours with their ever-changing needs, keeping up with policy adjustments, laws, growth, and, of course, a changing world. We specialize in operation manuals, safety manuals, documentation, training materials, and more.
If you’re curious how we can help you through the upcoming changes in your company, we’d love to have a conversation. Contact us here to get started.