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HOUSTON—Innovation, the driving factor in human growth, has brought an abundance of new technologies to the energy sector since the Industrial Revolution.

The evolution of these technologies has led energy professionals to face their newest challenge of supplying an ever-growing human population with energy that isn’t only affordable and plentiful, but also sustainable and clean, according to a panel at the  Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) on May 3 titled “The Intersection of Innovation, Energy Transition and Digital Transformation”.

“Mankind[’s] journey is about innovation; innovation is human,” Augusto Borella Hougaz, director of oil and gas products at Intelie, said during the OTC panel.

Joined by panelists Juliana Garaizar, vice president of innovation at Greentown Labs; Amy Henry, CEO and co-founder of Eunike Venture; Jon Nordby, managing director at MassChallenge; and Allyson Book, vice president of energy transition at Baker Hughes, the group discussed the corporate pivot, workforce, entrepreneurship, risk-taking and innovation philosophy driving innovation, the digital transformation and the energy transition.

“This is the intersection of innovation and how it works with what we're doing in our world,” said Barbara Thompson, North American engineering manager for subsea production systems at Baker Hughes who served as the panel’s moderator. “We’re talking about the role of innovation, but [also] why are we doing this? We need change.”

In his presentation, Hougaz drew attention to the fact that with 8 billion people on the planet, there is about 100,000 tons of CO₂ emissions per day to mitigate, a staggering number that has grown as the human population has increased more drastically than any other animal species on the planet. He then walked through the evolutionary stages of mankind, ending with humanity’s biggest challenge to solve in this era: creating sustainable and affordable energy.

Hougaz emphasized the need for solutions to “prioritize innovations that deliver for individuals more power, more decision and more autonomy.”

“When we look back in different moments and different eras of our species, we see that when we have the evolution of the creation of humanity, we allow creation of processes and new growth of the population,” he said.

“Innovation is the way that we adapt to survive,” he added. “We take this technology and we incorporate new actions [and] usually new tools that drives individual empowerment.”

While energy innovation and transformation is critical to supplying a rapidly expanding world with reliable energy, with 8 billion people on the planet, supply needs to be increased with more urgency. However, to keep up with energy demand, Hougaz and Thompson agreed that innovators will need to find solutions at a faster pace to catch up to a mounting human population.

“But innovation is a different mindset,” Thompson said. “And if you work at large companies, you find innovation doesn’t happen very fast; it moves like an ocean liner, or maybe like inflation. But if you’re doing innovation, it’s a very [slow] thing.”

“At the end of the day, the transformation that we are going through is a human process; it’s about the human journey,” Hougaz added.


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