Energy industry professionals, invited by the Energy Charter for the organization of the 8th session of the training programs, shared their expert opinions with the audience.
The experts submitted their reports on topical issues of the energy industry and raised a variety of topics to discuss with the participants of the event.
One of the main topics for discussion was the Paris climate agreement (COP21), which according to the experts has a number of gaps and deficiencies so far, but it is much better than inaction. For example, the lack of sufficiently stringent measures that can really discourage the use of fossil fuels (economic mechanisms similar to the Kyoto Protocol) was criticized.
There was keenly discussed the lack of understanding by the international community of the issue of reducing the use of fossil fuels, especially coal (as the burning of coal emits the greatest amount of carbon dioxide per unit of energy compared with other fuels). And in spite of climate change, while the use of fossil fuels is cost-effective, they will be used. And with the growing demand for electricity, it is extremely difficult, for example for China, to replace fossil fuels with renewables, because the country is able to consume the amount of energy produced by all types of generation. In addition, according to expert interpretation, the agreement means an absolute reduction in CO2 emissions by developed countries and only a partial reduction by developing ones.
The scale of climate change impacts requires international cooperative measures to ensure investment and bold technological solutions. The experts believe that climate change issues can be solved and reliance on imported energy can be reduced by a rapid (as much as possible) transition to renewable energy sources.
2015 was a record year for investments in “green” energy (329 billion dollars). It is important to note that these figures were obtained at the time of extremely low prices for gas, oil and coal.
However, there are not enough investment flows to ensure the existing pan-European objectives 2020/2030 and COP21. Investments in RES require a more stable investment climate and active support from governments. And, in this regard, it is worth noting the efforts of the Energy Charter that brings together producers and consumers of energy (as well as transit countries) and protects energy investments, promoting a favorable investment climate. In the context of COP21 objectives, the Energy Charter Treaty is the unique component of the investment policy to mobilize investments in the energy sector.
The discussions raised a number of topics: from the dubious prospects of nuclear energy to the modern capabilities of the cars using electric motors.
Wind energy issues were covered by Giles Dixon (CEO of WindEurope) and Khalid Benhamou (Sahara Wind Project Manager).
Giles Dixon focused on the challenges that the European energy market has set itself for the near future:
• Due to the fact that the wind is not constant, it is necessary to integrate into the grid different types of RES that will complement each other. In the absence of complement system at the expense of renewable energy, to ensure stable production of the required amount of electricity, from the environmental point of view, it is necessary to make a choice in favor of a "purer" kind of fossil fuels – gas;
• The most effective is the sale of electricity generated in close proximity to the consumer. Therefore, choosing sites for wind farms with a maximum capacity across Europe, the supply of generated electricity should not encounter any national barriers during international transfers;
• There is a need for investments in the creation of a common structure of power grids, which will significantly reduce the final cost of electricity and direct its implementation in accordance with the market needs, not just the territorial localization;
• The issue of accumulating the generated electricity is very important. Some modern wind farms with a capacity of up to 10 MW are already equipped with a battery capable of accumulating a sufficient amount of energy produced, and this trend is growing rapidly.
Active investments in the European wind energy are stipulated primarily by the continuous development of technology that makes the cost of electricity from wind more competitive. Today, the price of electricity from a “land” wind farm is 60-70 Euro/MWh and for offshore, due to expensive water installations, about 100 Euro/MWh. Moreover, the use of renewable energy has significant support, the main element of this support in the European Union is the guarantee for the mandatory purchase of all the electricity from RES.
Khalid Benhamou informed about the active deployment of wind farms in North Africa, and said that the cost of electricity generated by wind in Morocco is about half as low as in Europe. Thanks to the most favorable geographical features, the combination of characteristics of offshore wind, with the possibility of installations on land, the rate of installed capacity utilization factor (ICUF) on the coast of the Sahara Desert reaches 45%.