Growth of the EU industry in the context of the current energy revolution
How can the EU industry grow in the context of the current energy revolution? This is the key issue of the Energy session at i-SUP2014. This energy revolution has already begun. New shale gas and tar sand explorations already now have a major impact on the geo-political landscape. Oil-peak production is not any longer a hot issue. Energy prices for gas vary significantly between the US, EU and Asia. Costs of renewable generation are decreasing and bringing renewable energy sources closer to the market. At the same time the introduction of these renewables puts a stress on the current energy system. All actors, both energy suppliers, grid operators, energy consumers, service providers, industrial companies, investors, governments,… are confronted with this energy “revolution”, which has just started. The question is how the take new positions in this changing energy landscape that may lead to growth instead of lock-in.
The current energy revolution offers considerable growth opportunities for industries that are able to find cost competitive solutions for the flexible energy system of the future.
The harbor environment proofs to be an ideal showcase, as illustrated in the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam. A key challenge for their growth is the matching of long term infrastructure investments with adaptive capacity, leading to a variety of projects on e.g. LNG, bio-based plants, solar power, heating and CO2 networks. Port authorities take a crucial role to “manage” this transition.
Due to the integrated nature of the energy system, more and more these breakthroughs can only be achieved through common engagements of energy stakeholders. Two specific examples are “long term energy storage with power to gas/chemicals” and “geothermal energy plants combined with intelligent heating and cooling networks”. Both of these breakthroughs would considerably contribute to a stable and secure energy system.
For power to chemicals the value chain of different companies e.g. steel and chemical industry can be integrated, leading to new process and energy management with enhanced economic optima. It is however clear that a comparative cost-effectiveness analysis of different “flexibility solutions” as storage, interconnection capacity and demand side management is needed.
In the same context geothermal energy is an abundant and predictable renewable energy source for both electricity and heat. For this breakthrough advances in risk management, low cost drilling techniques and efficient heating and cooling grids pave the way to affordability.
A societal debate is more than ever necessary to secure the proper conditions for these potential innovations. The energy revolution has already begun.