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A PECC International Project for 2013-2014: Energy Transition


Waves_0060Taking into consideration global needs for new sources of energy to meet the growing industrial and household demands in the midst of rising energy costs and diminishing fossil fuels, it is imperative that we invest more in developing and optimizing new types of energy. It is one of top priorities for PECC economies to explore the most efficient ways of ensuring smooth transitions from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy. Lessons can be learnt and inspirations generated by sharing how major urban centers are transitioning from being huge consumers of energy to becoming eco-friendly and energy-efficient cities by making behavioral changes and adopting new economic models.

The key objective of the two-year project was to design the framework for new economic models that will make way for smooth energy transition by bringing together bother energy-exporting and importing economies, energy producers or distributors as well as energy-related policy-makers. It put into perspective new initiatives and strategies designed to facilitate energy transition that will be critical to achieving sustainable living conditions. It also addressed some of the progress made in areas of advanced technology and innovative policies that contribute towards more integrated urban services and efficient energy mix.

The project examined energy transition in three main aspects;

1) commercial development and market viability of new energies; 
2) technologies involved in energy transition and their applicability; and
3) public energy policies.  

The discussions throughout three seminars encouraged forward-thinking into the new age of energy production and consumption where traditional fossil fuels would be replaced by more environment-friendly resources and extraction methods while renewable energies move beyond the R&D to the stage of becoming more competitive in the global energy market. Ways of optimizing the extraction, transportation, distribution, storage, and energy production from non-traditional fossil fuels and renewable energy sources in efforts to achieve greater cost-efficiency and carbon reduction were also addressed. 

Some PECC economies are more advanced than others in rolling out energy policies and environment regulations conducive to the much-needed energy transition. The project was aimed at offering policy recommendations for PECC economies grappling with different options in energy policy, and those undergoing energy transitions from fossil fuels to alternative energy.  

SEMINAR 1: Making the Most out of Available Resources
Victoria, BC, Canada | November 7-8, 2013

The first seminar covered the cost-benefits of alternative energies, clean energy technologies, policy initiatives, and conditions for the commercial development of renewable energies.  Advanced technologies are available and social awareness is high; given what we now know and given what we can do, the speakers at the seminar discussed how alternative energy sources can provide us with longer-term solutions to the adverse effects of climate change and the rapid increase in price of depleting fossil fuels without losing sight of efficiency and feasibility.

Four main areas were addressed: 

Session 1. Energy transition: Overview
As the energy demands and costs rise worldwide, we have to consider various new options and prepare to gradually shift the ways in which we have been producing, distributing and consuming energy: from irresponsibly wasteful to the more sustainable and smart energy solutions. While increasing the energy efficiency with fossil fuels and conserving energy, further development and commercialization of renewable energy must continue.

Session 2. Promoting the potential for renewable energy in the islands or isolated territories
Maximizing the usage of locally available energy resources would naturally be most economical and market competitive given the infrastructural and logistic concerns such as storage and transportation. Many remote places such as small islands or sparsely populated areas, however, do not have readily available natural resources and would have to depend on imported energy or small-scale power operations.

Session 3. Energy transition and innovation
From marine, wind, geothermal to biofuels, alternatives to fossil fuels have become more varied and feasible thanks to significant breakthroughs in technology and innovation. Now it is time to take the ideas and experiments from the drawing board and test beds to the market. How really viable are these renewable energies? Can they survive in competition with the fossil fuels? From what point can renewable energies survive without the hefty government subsidies?

Session 4. Shale gas/ oil: Opportunities and challenges
Recent discoveries of large deposits of shale gas and oil in some of the Asia-Pacific economies have led governments to also consider shale gas and oil as a promising alternative solution between the traditional fossil fuels and the renewable energies. The question is how to optimize the processes involved in exploration, drilling, production, distribution, transportation and usage of fossil fuels.

Key questions outlined at the Victoria seminar:
  1. How do we define “energy transition”? What should be the timeframe for achieving this?
  2. What will be the driver for energy transition in a world of fossil fuel abundance, helped by technology advancement such as fracking? How can alternative energy compete with cheap gas, cheap coal and abundant oil? How big is the competitive gap? How can it be bridged?
  3. To what extent can the market drive transition and to what extent does it have to be driven by government policy? Or a combination of the two?
  4. What is the balance between increasing supply (of renewables) and reducing demand? And what are the factors that contribute to reduction in demand, other than price?
  5. How does one attach a price to carbon? What carbon price is needed? What is the required amount of carbon tax to change behavior? How can countries cooperate to ensure the implementation of a universally accepted policy on carbon pricing?

SEMINAR 2: From Prototype to Market: Development of marine renewable energy policies and regional cooperation
Santiago, Chile | June 24-25, 2014

The second seminar focused on marine renewable energy and how it could be integrated into national energy policies and regional cooperation. The seminar gathered representatives from the government and business sectors as well as institutions which are involved in the policy development of renewable energy, and particularly those from PECC member economies where marine renewable energies (MRE) are present and those seeking international collaboration to further develop specific MRE industries and relevant policies.

Session 1. Locations for MRE

  1.  An overview of the best suitable locations for MRE development in the PECC economies given local constraints and opportunities
  2. MRE providing energy for coastal cities and isolated industrial/mining operations; Connecting MRE to the ground network to avoid blackout; How to manage and deliver the energy produced. Do we need special networks?

Session 2. Promoting early acceptance for renewable energies

  1. Challenges faced by MRE to guarantee uninterrupted availability and fight against natural risks (maintenance, anchorage, corrosion, currents, high winds, rogue waves…)
  2. Acceptance from public at large: environmental impact, impact on the energy bill. How best to satisfy demand for energy at the local level (housing, mining, fisheries)?
  3. Acceptance by stakeholder of the oceans: fisheries, transportation, recreational
  4. Risk management: meeting the demand for energy without blackout

Session 3. Set appropriate policies to develop renewable energies

  1. Timeframe for MRE to become competitive vis-à-vis fossil fuels
  2. What kind of policy, technical, financial support is needed to develop MRE?
    • Benchmark against developed economies, non-PECC
    • Policies set by PECC member economies
  3. Setting an efficient government policy (local, national, and multilateral levels) – Unilateral policies versus a cooperative approach
  4. The European perspective for development of and support to MRE

Session 4. Developing cooperation between stakeholders to promote energy transition

  1. What policy measures are needed and work best: regulations, mandates, incentives; What are the best practices to promote cooperation?
  2. Help governments and the private sector evaluate and identify the best, viable technologies for energy transition: a business point-of-view
  3. Develop cooperation and partnership; exchange of best practices between stakeholders: networks, energy storage, water/ energy linkages

Nouméa, New Caledonia | November 26-28, 2014

The third and concluding seminar was devoted to examining new models for urban development that are deemed necessary to meet various constraints from energy transition.

The seminar covered the following areas:

Session 1. Policies for renewable energies in the Pacific islands and coastal areas
Session 2. Technological challenges: Energy storage and efficiency, integration to existing networks
Session 3. Towards greater energy efficiency in coastal areas and Pacific islands
Session 4. Energy transition policies in the Asia-Pacific