Energy Transition

How can public and private sector collaboration accelerate the energy transition? Industry experts explain

"Diverse pathways for energy transition must be tailored to the situation of each country," one industry leader said. Image: Unsplash

Spencer Feingold
Digital Editor, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum
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Energy Transition

  • A global energy transition is necessary to curb the climate crisis and mitigate the stark disparities in energy access around the world.
  • Maintaining public and private sector collaboration will be key to its success, experts say.
  • We asked two industry leaders what private sector actions and public sector interventions should be prioritized to strengthen collaboration around the energy transition.

As the world continues to barrel towards critical levels of global warming, the need for a comprehensive energy transition remains urgent.

Experts agree that public and private sector collaboration is crucial for a successful energy transition, with many urging policymakers and business leaders to take steps to develop and maintain partnerships. This includes joint efforts to maintain business financial viability, robust energy transition supply chains and strategic investments in clean energy, especially in emerging markets.

Public and private collaberation around the energy transition is a major topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum’s Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development, taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 28-29 April. The gathering will bring together over 700 international participants from an array of sectors, including many leaders from energy transition industries.

Ahead of the meeting, we asked two such leaders from Japan what private sector actions and public sector interventions should be prioritized to strengthen collaboration around the energy transition.

Here’s what they had to say:

Shunichi Miyanaga, Chairman of the Board, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

“As the private sector, we are responsible for providing the various technologies and equipment needed to help society become carbon neutral.

“First, this means we must advance existing technologies that promise to be effective in the short to medium term, such as carbon dioxide capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), coal to gas, ammonia combustion, hydrogen mixing and combustion, etc., by reducing costs and improving performance.

“While a vital component of any pathway to decarbonization, it will not be possible to meet all electricity demand from renewable energy sources alone, such as highly variable wind and solar. We will, therefore, need to expedite efforts in pursuit of long-term and advanced nuclear power technologies such as high-temperature gas reactors, fast reactors and even nuclear fusion, which will also make sustainable hydrogen ecosystem broadly possible.

“On the other hand, the public sector has an important role to play in providing businesses with a reliable means of supporting both short- and long-term developments, high-risk technological advancements, and challenges of business model innovation.

“When the mechanisms and duration of support are predictable, companies are better able to build financial and entrepreneurial networks around the world which foster investment in innovative start-ups, collaboration with academia, and sharing of knowledge and proprietary technologies with diverse partners.

“For this reason, considering the most vulnerable to climate change, we believe that an international mechanism is at first necessary to enable the delivery of technology in a way that caters to the unique needs and geographic characteristics of each of the developing countries.”

Nobumitsu Hayashi, Governor, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

“In order to achieve our common goal of decarbonization, diverse pathways for energy transition must be tailored to the situation of each country. JBIC supports various projects of energy transition to realize both economic growth and decarbonization, respecting each country’s ownership.

“Japan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at the meeting between Prime Minister Kishida and Prince Mohammed bin Salman in July 2023, agreed to launch a new initiative, ‘KSA-Japan Lighthouse Initiative for Clean Energy Cooperation’. This initiative is to combine the countries’ respective advantages: Japanese industry has advanced environment-related technologies and know-how, while Saudi Arabia has a great potential to be a supply-chain-hub for clean energy and mineral resources.

“The public and private partnership is essential in realizing both economic growth and net zero emission. JBIC, as a financial-platform-provider, will facilitate to co-create public and private partnership projects from an initial stage, convening stakeholders and conducting policy dialogues with the government and governmental organizations of host countries as well as MDBs. JBIC aspires to be a navigator in addressing global challenges, inter alia, climate change.”

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