Alternative Energy

Security must be smart energy economy backbone: Expert

DUBAI — As public and private sector entities across the world race to adopt and monetize opportunities across the global smart energy economy, Andy Karsner, one of the keynote speakers at the Global Smart Energy Summit (GSES), which ended in Dubai, believes society must act smarter to make smart energy systems truly work.

Ensuring security in a smart energy economy driven by Internet of Things technologies is, according to Karsner, the former assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the US Department of Energy, as important as the progressive technologies themselves.

“The weaponization of the worldwide web is the biggest threat to the Internet of Things and the smart economy,” said Karsner, senior strategist and space cowboy at Google X, and a managing partner of Emerson Collective, the social impact enterprise founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

“Security is the single greatest threat to the massive diffusion of hope for clean energy expansion, decarbonising our world and creating greater prosperity and activity at the fastest rate we can design.

“We can hack children’s toys and make them listening devices in our homes, our smartphone cameras can be activated without us knowing it, we hack social platforms to tilt democratic elections — these things demand that in any discussion about the peaceful proliferation of smart energy devices to create a cleaner, more affordable and more sustainable world, we must be mindful of the security needs embedded in the exercise.”

With renewable energy sources and how regional governments are investing in smart energy adoption a cornerstone narrative of the inaugural GSES, which was held alongside the 43rd edition of Middle East Electricity, Karsner revealed global authorities must evolve their mindsets to transition towards sustainable, smart energy economies.

“When we talk about natural resources, I think we need to examine the nexus between crude, code and capital in order to understand the world that we are skating to and how fast we can get there,” he said.

“The truth is we have set ourselves up on this planet for a classic tragedy of the commons: we have designed our energy economy as a lopsided system — we privatized the gains and socialized the risk. We draw on our endowment and the principal, rather than living on the interest of our natural world. But we put this tragedy upon ourselves, it is human designed and only we can fix it.”

Following 110 content streams across a trio of tailored conference tracks delivered over three days, Ryan O’Donnell, the GSES Program Director, revealed the region’s power and energy industry leaders have soaked up the thought-leadership, advice and consultancy offered by Karsner and more than 100 other high-profile speakers.

“Alongside Andy Karsner, GSES has featured some of the biggest corporate champions in sector transformation,” said O’Donnell. “A combination of keynote speakers, ministerial addresses, and public and private sector visionaries have led debates on the need to balance growth from smart and sustainable energy sources, exploring issues and challenges such as regulations and how to best drive long-term competitive advantage. Our country-specific sessions have also explored opportunities in developing usable renewables, meeting national power programmes across the Gulf and beyond, as well as reform patterns across the entire power spectrum. The first edition of GSES has empowered the regional energy industry,” added O’Donnell. — SG

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