‘What the Thunder Said’ is the final section of T. S. Eliot’s 1922 masterpiece, the Waste Land (our favourite ever piece of literature). The poem describes a bleak world where nothing will grow. At the end, giant storm-clouds burst open with rain, bringing a new hope, for a return to growth and productivity.
This is our analogy for the energy industry, which is also emerging from a bleak, inefficient, low-growth period… its own “Waste Land”. Ultimately, we think new technologies will bring a return to growth and productivity.
The analogy holds for the energy transition. We argue that the traditional energy industry has an enormous role to play in decarbonizing the world: making fossil fuels as efficient and low-carbon as possible, then commercialising new opportunities to offset that carbon.
What the Thunder Said is also audible if you go visit a “frac site” in the shale industry: here is a technology that has already transformed the world. Our most famous piece of research at Redburn, analyzed 100 technical papers around the shale industry, back in 2017, identifying upside to productivity, and showing how technology-focused research can differentiate itself.
Finally, the analogy applies to the research and consultancy industries, amidst the storm clouds of new regulation. Most analysis is similar, hugging a narrow consensus. It may be beneficial — like the Waste Land — to take a different approach, drawing on a wide range of source material, which is why our research focuses on themes, technologies, technical papers and patents.