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Changing energy markets underscore importance of strong policies, technology focus - Dr Fatih Birol

Released on 05/07/2017

Embargo 19:00 Tuesday 4 July 2017

International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director delivers prestigious Energy Institute (EI) lecture

One of the global energy scene’s most influential figures, Dr Fatih Birol HonFEI, was awarded the Energy Institute’s prestigious Melchett Award at a special event this evening attended by 300 energy professionals, civil servants and journalists at the Royal Institution in London.

In a keynote lecture entitled ‘Global Energy Markets and Environment Challenges: Today and Tomorrow’, Dr Birol expressed his strong appreciation for receiving the award:

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Melchett Award. When I look at the list of past recipients, I see people who many years ago already had an understanding of the challenges the energy sector faces today.”

In terms of the outlook for energy demand and supply he said:

“Over the last 25 years, energy demand increased by almost 60%, with the lion’s share of this being met by fossil fuels. The biggest winner was coal. But looking forward 25 years to 2040, we see a new dynamic on the demand side and a new set of winners on supply. Growth in demand slows to 30%, as energy efficiency helps to bring down the amount of energy required to drive the global economy.”

On oil and gas he said:

“The ongoing growth in US shale oil is triggering a deep transformation of oil industry dynamics.”

“The shale revolution in the United States is being followed by another gas revolution – this time driven by a wave of new LNG supply that will reshape gas markets and change the gas security equation.”

On the clean energy transition, Dr Birol observed promising signs but underscored the need for significant further effort:

"Over the last three years, global emissions have stagnated despite a growing global economy. This is a cause for optimism, even if it is too soon to say that emissions have peaked. It is also a sign that market dynamics and technological improvements matter.”

And he singled out the need to boost R&D to further improve the deployment prospects for clean energy technologies:

“Globally, R&D investment in clean energy by both governments and the private sector is too low. To support and encourage innovation and R&D efforts, the IEA is strengthening its role as a global hub for clean energy and energy efficiency.”

Dr Birol took office as IEA Executive Director in 2015, some twenty years after first joining the Agency as a junior analyst. Acclaimed internationally for his work in the energy field, he was previously IEA Chief Economist, responsible for the IEA’s flagship World Energy Outlook report. He is also Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Energy Advisory Board and serves as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Sustainable Energy for All. He is the founder and chair of the IEA Energy Business Council which provides a forum to enhance co-operation between the energy industry and energy policy makers.

Dr. Birol was previously awarded the Japanese Emperor’s Order of the Rising Sun as well as highest state honours from countries including Austria, France, Germany and Italy. He was also recently given a Doctorate of Science honoris causa from Imperial College London.

Notes for editors

1. For media enquiries please contact Nick Turton on +44 020 7467 7103 or

2. Stills and video from the lecture are available on request.

3. Dr Birol’s full biography is available to download here.

4. The prestigious Melchett Award dates back to 1930, when it was instituted by The Rt Hon Sir Alfred Mond, who later became Lord Melchett and Chairman of ICI. It is presented to an individual for their outstanding contribution to the study or advancement of the science of fuel and energy.

5. The Energy Institute (EI) is the professional body for the energy industry, developing and sharing knowledge, skills and good practice towards a safe, secure and sustainable energy system. The EI supports over 23,000 individuals working in or studying energy and 250 companies worldwide, providing learning and networking opportunities to support professional development, as well as professional recognition and technical and scientific knowledge resources on energy in all its forms and applications.


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