Over 200 students and many industry thought leaders poured into the Union Club of Philadelphia last Friday Jan 19 for the marquee event of the Wharton Energy Club. The Wharton Energy Conference is the largest annual student-led energy forum in the country. Panels covered topics ranging from energy resilience and entrepreneurship to the latest in policy integration and early blockchain application blueprints. Energy executives, academics, industry enthusiasts, MBA students, as well as cross-disciplinary attendees across the University of Pennsylvania came together to hear about the latest industry trends (see end of article for full list of panelist topics covered).
The keynote speakers for the conference were Kirk Edelman (President and CEO, Siemens Financial) and Vijay Swarup (VP of R&D, ExxonMobil). Vijay, for example, spoke about recent trends in energy—including natural gas replacing coal for electricity generation—and discussed the innovative R&D that ExxonMobil is undertaking in areas such as carbon sequestration and algae-to-biofuels.
Speakers on the Oil & Gas Private Equity panel, for example, spoke about the challenges of investing in a commodity-driven business. On the upstream side, they touched on the importance of hedging to lock-in profitability and limit risk exposure. In oil field services, in light of the collapse in oil prices and the ‘lower for longer’ sentiment, they discussed the importance of operational flexibility and the ability to scale up or down the size of the organization for its profitability. The panelists expect that the US Shale Renaissance will continue to shape the global energy landscape as the US has become a net natural gas exporter for the first time in 50+ years and continues to resiliently produce millions of barrels of shale oil.
On the bleeding edge of industry innovation, the panelists from the Big Data/AI/Blockchain conversation touched on how blockchain systems are providing customers more direct access to the wholesale energy markets, while realizing efficiency gains through minimized transaction times and costs. Next, Douglas Miller from the Rocky Mountain Institute, one of the leading sustainability research institutions, discussed the promise of a blockchain-supported platform to more seamlessly and reliably trade renewable energy credits across the country.
With growing attendance and roster of thought leaders, the Wharton Energy Conference continues to be one of the most anticipated events of the year for both enthusiasts and those looking to simply learn more about the shifting industry.
Wharton Energy Conference panelist topics:
- Challenges & Opportunities in Cleantech Finance
- Resilience in Energy
- Macro Outlook
- Entrepreneurship in Energy
- Policy and Integration
- Women in Energy
- Evolution of Generation & Power Storage
- Big Data/AI/Blockchain
- Oil & Gas Private Equity
- Transformation of Oil & Gas
- Power Generation of the Future
- Unconventional Oil & Gas Production
- The Future of Transportation
- Developments in Emerging Markets