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Press Release

Energy transition for power sector creating new risks says Willis Towers Watson Review

Environmental|Climate Quantified
Climate Risk and Resilience|COVID 19 Coronavirus|Geopolitical Risk

June 30, 2021

2021 Power Market Review “Adapting to New Realities” outlines the challenges facing the power market as it embraces the energy transition

MELBOURNE, June 30, 2021 – Power companies are facing key challenges arising from energy transition and the move to cleaner fossil fuels, according to Willis Towers Watson’s (NASDAQ: WLTW) 2021 Power Market Review. These include how power companies need to substantially reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG), emissions (referred to as climate change mitigation) as well as ensuring the resilience of their assets and operations to the impacts of climate change (referred to as climate change adaptation).

The review highlights how the industry is embracing the need to meet climate change requirements but also looks at how climate change is presenting unique risks to the sector that must be managed effectively to maintain reliable supply. Additionally, the review also explores how geopolitical power from energy transition will derive from:

  • control of the “green earth” materials needed in the energy transition;
  • availability of renewable sources for power production;
  • ability to produce and export both power and new low carbon industrial fuels such as hydrogen;
  • innovation of new technology, business models and industries and flexibility to the pace of transformation;
  • the flexibility to the pace of transformation as this is likely to be non-linear in form

Other key highlights of the review from an insurance market perspective include:

  • Capacity: In 2021, Willis Towers Watson (WTW) estimates that the global theoretical total has now reduced still further to approximately US$3.25 billion, with the realistic level in the region of US$1.4 billion.
  • Losses: Losses for 2020 are more extensive than 2019 with two major Power losses in 2021, totaling US$450 million between them. However, this is not as disastrous as during the period 2015 to 2018.
  • Rating levels: Rating increases are now averaging between 15 to 20% for Property programmes, depending on a variety of factors, including risk profile, premium income volume, spread of risk, loss record and, increasingly, ESG criteria. This represents a slight easing of the hard market but is still far removed from any actual turnaround in rating levels.

Matthew Frost, Head of Natural Resources Australasia, WTW said: “In the past 24 months there has been a directional change by insurers with a move to a ‘carrot’ approach to climate change rather than the ‘stick’. The headlines revolved around what insurers and reinsurers wouldn’t underwrite or when they would withdraw from areas such as thermal coal or oil sands. Now the mood is more proactive with talk about companies being incentivised to get to their stated climate change goals. WTW’s Climate Transition Pathways process supports this positive mood by arranging for the independent accreditation of an organisation’s climate change strategy which, in future, may be the vital key to unlock insurance capacity and terms in the climate risk space.”

Matthew added: “Overall, the insurance capacity in Australasia is shrinking in the Power sector. While the rate of hardening has now decreased for most lines of business from last year’s percentage rises, the pressure to keep pushing for year-on-year increases shows little sign of abating. It is important for Power companies to work closely with their risk advisors, using risk and analytics tools to help them manage their cost of risk through purchasing the right limits and retention levels for their insurance programs. But it is imperative that buyers and their brokers deliver clarity, transparency, and a renewed engagement with their leading insurers. Only then will they minimise the impact of this challenging market.”

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 45,000 employees serving in more than 140 countries and markets. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

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