EU's energy industry must reduce CO2 emissions and invest in renewables
Europe's energy industry needs to reduce its CO2 emissions while investing more in renewable energy, the 3rd EU Energy Summit was told in Brussels.
Europe's energy industry needs to reduce its CO2 emissions while investing more in renewable energy | Photo credit: 3rd EU Energy Summit
That was one of the key messages to emerge from the 3rd EU Energy Summit, a showpiece event which aimed to discuss recent EU initiatives and their impact on the energy market. The event, organised by Business Bridge Europe on 28 March in Brussels, brought together representatives of national and EU institutions, industry, civil society and the media.
One of the keynote speakers, Nikolai Lyngø, senior Vice President and head of corporate strategy at Statoil, the Norwegian energy company and one of the event sponsors, pointed out that the conference was taking place in "uncertain times."
Speaking in a session focusing on energy security, energy diplomacy and the resilience of energy systems, he emphasised that the energy industry needs "clear direction and stability" from policymakers while Europe needs "clean, long term and secure" energy supply. On the issue of energy security, he pointed out that Norway and Statoil is currently the EU's second largest supplier of crude oil and natural gas.
He added, "The EU needs reliable partners who can deliver affordable, sustainable and secure energy. Statoil provides that but we need the EU to continue to provide security of demand."
Looking to the future, Lyngø predicted, "We are completely changing the way we run our industry. I predict over the next 10 years, you'll see more changes in this industry than any of us can imagine. The more uncertain the world, the more we need to innovate."
He told the packed audience, "We are moving to a low carbon economy and the energy industry needs to change. While there will be more renewables, oil and gas will continue to be a significant part of the energy mix for decades to come. "This means the industry needs to reduce C02 emissions from current operations and invest more money into renewable energy."
He added, "It is the same for Statoil. Globally, by 2030 we expect 15-20 per cent of our annual investments to be in new energy solutions. That's why we all need stability from policy makers."
The company's ambition, he noted, is to be the most carbon efficient oil and gas producer globally, aiming to reduce its Co2 emissions by three million tonnes and cut carbon intensity per barrel from 10 to 8kg by 2030.
He said, "We are on track towards delivering renewable power to more than one million households. Statoil can do a lot on our own but we need partnerships and policy frameworks to scale up delivery."
Another panellist in the same session, Mechthild Wörsdörfer, director of energy policy at the European Commission, seized on the same theme, pointing out that the focus of the executive's 'clean energy for all Europeans package' was to promote renewables. The official said, "Renewables have and will continue to have a vital role to play, both in the power and transport sectors."
She also highlighted the importance of the EU weaning itself off its dependency for energy on a relatively small number of countries. Over 50 per cent of Europe's oil and gas is currently imported, she noted, mostly from Russia, Norway and Algeria.
This rises to over 85 per cent in the case of oil imports while five of the EU's 28 member states rely on just one supplier for their energy, she said. "One of the guiding principles of our energy policy," she said, "is to reduce this level of dependency".
Her comments came on the day the European Commissioner for climate action and energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, set off for a trip to China where he visited clean energy pro-jects.
Before leaving, Cañete took part in the opening session of the conference where he outlined the Commission's recent energy initiatives and heralded the Paris agreement, saying this would be one of the topics under discussion during his China trip.
Polish MEP Jerzy Buzek appealed to the EU not to backtrack on its "ambitious" energy and climate policies. One other challenge, he suggested, was to "integrate" energy policy at the EU-wide level, adding, "The big challenge here, of course, will be in convincing member states."
Another speaker was Piotr Wozniak, CEO of PGNiG, the Polish state-controlled oil and natural gas company. He also agreed on the need to reduce energy dependency, notably on Russia, saying, "We are constantly trying to increase efforts to import gas from other countries most recently, for example, from Qatar."
Despite claims in a separate session by Luxembourg Greens MEP Claude Turmes that gas consumption in Europe had peaked, Wozniak pledged his confidence in the long term future of the fossil fuel.
"Contrary to what has been claimed, gas consumption in Poland actually rose by seven per cent in 2016 compared with the previous 12 months. Gas is still very much a very reliable part of the energy mix."
Another panel speaker, ECR group MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski, a member of Parliament's industry and energy committee, condemned those countries - which he refrained from naming - who try to use energy as a "tool of political pressure." This was seen as an indirect reference to Russia which, in the past, has cut off energy supplies to some Eastern European countries such as Ukraine.
The Polish deputy said, "Another question we should be asking is how we find a balance in the search for clean energy and the re-industrialisation of Europe which is also necessary, of course."
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