It’s hard to imagine a world without energy in the 21st century. The lights in the office, to the buses we take, and even the mobile phones we use today, are all powered by energy. Shell plays an important role in sustaining the energy equation. But have you stopped to envision how different the world might be 30 years from now?

“For many years, experts have tried to predict oil prices. We have learnt that they can be and generally are wrong,” said VP, Government Relations, Asia-Pacific, Doug McKay at an introductory session to Shell scenarios. “This is where scenarios come in handy.”  

Doug and Senior Energy Adviser Valery Chow, who is part of Shell’s scenarios team, spoke to a group of university students as part of a kick-off training session for the Imagine the Future Scenarios Competition. Teams of five to eight members each are required to develop scenarios based on the focal question: “More and cleaner energy in urban Asian and Middle Eastern homes in 2050: How we live, work and play”.

Participating students came from a range of schools and fields, including the Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Renaissance Engineering Programme, Singapore Management University, the Singapore University of Science and Technology and Yale-NUS College. This mix in participants proved to be beneficial for the discussions.

“Different people bring in a different lens when analysing the situation. This is crucial considering the fact that energy is not solely influenced by technology and resources, but a whole range of other variables as well,” said Doug. He highlighted the interconnection between factors like technology, environment, economics, society and politics in affecting global energy use and demand. 

Imagination was certainly alive in the room as participants discussed the possibilities for our world in the future. Some interesting scenarios they explored was the possibility of working anytime, anywhere, and living in a “bubble” where one’s social needs can be satisfied as long as one has internet connection. Participants also had a thought-provoking discussion on how a global war could spur technological innovation or lead to energy shortage.

Valery was heartened by how the session went. “We’re usually conditioned to think that the world won’t turn out that differently, but in scenarios we should try to push boundaries. The acid test is that the audience you present your scenarios to must believe that the scenarios are plausible,” he added.

Into its second run, the Competition in the 2017/2018 season also includes teams from universities in Egypt and Thailand. On 5 March 2018, the national champions will compete in the regional finals in Singapore and will present their winning scenarios at Shell’s Powering Progress Together in Singapore on 8 March 2018.