8th Energy Forum (2013)
Sopot, 16th December – 18th December 2013
To meet the economic challenges, the EU should focus on the development of the three pillars of energy policy at the same time – enlargement of the internal market; enhance of the security of supply and environmental protection. Such a conclusion can be drawn after three days of debates, presentations, reports and expert lectures at the 8th Energy Forum. The three-day conference in Sopot was attended by nearly 600 guests from Poland and abroad – including representatives of energy companies, politicians, experts and journalists.
Climate policy and competitive economy
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Janusz Piechociński, gave the tone of the discussions at the opening plenary session, arguing that the EU's climate targets included in the package of 3 × 20, should be extended to include two new targets – a reduction of energy prices by 20 percent, and an increase by 20 percent of the share of industry in GDP of the EU.
According to the minister of the economy, the reduction in energy prices in the European Union is a priority, in the perspective of the creation of a transatlantic free trade zone. – Since 2005, the average price of electricity in the EU increased by 25 per cent. And in the United States - about 1 percent. United States attracts new investments, including energy-intensive. Europe begins to drift and has serious tensions in the energy market – said Deputy Prime Minister.
A critical opinion on the EU was presented by Member of the European Parliament Konrad Szymański, who reminded that when it comes to climate policy, a balance of the increase of security of supply and protection of both competitiveness and natural environment had been assumed. At this point, the climate policy is very strict and there is a general feeling of neglecting the economic competitiveness and security of supply.
The worst that could happen would be the repetition of old mistakes in the new policy plan for the period after 2020. A thoughtful revision of this policy is a matter of European raison d'État, Szymański explained. Deputy Minister of Economy, Witold Pietrewicz, stated that capital which searches for a profit reduces its costs and emigrates to the US, because the energy prices are stable there.
The economy trapped in high energy prices was a topic discussed also by the President of Lotos Group, Paweł Olechnowicz, Chairman of the Board of PSE Operator Henryk Majchrzak and President of PERN Marcin Moskalewicz, as well as Surojit Ghosh, Member of the Board of Arcelor Mittal. They all unanimously claimed that the increase of competitiveness of European economy is the only way to overcome the consequences of the Economic crises.
Similar point of view was presented by Pascal Charriau, President of a French research company Enerdata, who presented the report that opened the Forum. – The problem is that when we have a high energy intensity, for example in China or India, the economy grows much faster. Those countries aren’t limited with strict regulations, which apply in the EU. According to Marcin Korolc, Secretary of State in the Minister of Environment and Government’s representative for climate policy, one needs to take under consideration not this commission and not this parliament because they are not the one that will make crucial decisions. The dreams of some people that they will design the policy for future years are unrealistic. He also was convinced that we need to talk not about one aim of climate policy, but of many and the debate should also be on the instruments and methods. Giles Dickson, Deputy President for Environmental Policy in Alstom Group said that a gradual shift of the economy for a low emission one and modernization of infrastructure and industry results in growth of competitiveness in all sectors.
Andrzej Dycha, Deputy Minister of the Economy, addressed the issue of emissions trading. In his opinion, the system is flawed and does not fulfill its basic objectives. First of all, it undermines the competitiveness of the European economy because it increases production costs resulting in many companies shifting to the parts of the world where there are no such restrictions.
Legal regulations, argued in turn representatives of the banking sector, are critical when it comes to financing renewable energy sources and their importance is hard to be overstated. They called on the government to speed up work on the law on RES and to introduce clear game rules. In the opinion of Wojciech Kwaśniak, Vice-President of the Financial Supervisory Commission, delays in the implementation of regulatory standards translate into a lower number of investments, and therefore into a weaker dynamics of economic growth. “Banks expect predictability regardless of whether the system is based on auctions or energy certificates. As long as there is no stable system, banks will withhold funding,” said Kwaśniak.
Energy security – infrastructure and energy mix
According to Jaroslav Neverovic, Lithuanian Minister for Energy, one of the ways to facilitate the transition of the European energy policy is to strengthen cooperation while creating a single European energy market. He stressed thatEU countries must bet on the full liberalization of the transmission network, because only then the market will grow.“This is a crucial element of energy security”, he argued. Krzysztof Kwiatkowski, President of the Supreme Audit Office, said that Poland’s energy security is gradually improving thanks to regulations adopted following its accession to the EU, development of cross-border infrastructure or investments such as the LNG terminal in Swinoujście.
Also the participants of the debate on nuclear energy discussed on the security and predictability of supplies and on the costs. A representative of the German nuclear industry, Nicolas Wendler, admitted that after the disaster inFukushima there was taken a political decision on the gradual abandonment of the atom. - The problem is that we really do not know what to replace it with. Renewable energy is less predictable and needs a solid complement – he said.
PGE EJ1 President, Aleksander Grad, said that a nuclear unit in Poland may arise around years 2024/2025. - An extremely important issue for the success of Polish nuclear program is a collaboration of the investors with the administration that will enable an efficient implementation of the various stages of the program. He also noted that these who want to defend Polish coal should support the nuclear program as a zero-emission nuclear energy will allow a greater share of cheap coal energy in the energy mix .
Jacques Regaldo Saint Blacard, President of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), speaking of security argued that after the disaster in Fukushima we realised that the events that are happening in one plant will affect also other plants. In his opinion, there is necessary a cooperation between all operators of nuclear power plants, in order to ensure the highest possible level of security.
Is shale gas a chance for Polish energy?
Shale gas is a great opportunity not only for Poland, but also for the European economy – claimed politicians, experts, businessmen and local government officials participating in the debate ‘What's next for shale gas – European chance or illusion?’ According to Robert Stankiewicz, president of Dow Poland, shale gas could become an important component of the European energy mix, but the exploration and mining of large deposits of shale gas inEurope should be supported by governments and the European institutions.
Deputy Environment Minister Piotr Wozniak and chief geologist of the country emphasized that the European Commission should focus more on the risks than the benefits associated with the extraction of gas from shale formations, and he gave as an example one of the last reports.
Expert of the Centre for European Policy Analysis Keith Smith argued that the fear of hydraulic fracturing, distributed by different groups, has no real basis. According to him, a good example is the famous film "Gasland" which was displayed twice in the European Parliament. Its author presents things unproven and consistently refuses to participate in public debates.
According to Smith, in Poland, things are moving slowly and for that reason we are still dependent on Russia. Central European countries are the most vulnerable to expensive gas import. Politicians should take on the task of persuading to the shale gas - People hear all these horrible things about hydraulic fracturing and politicians do not have the courage to come out and say that this is not true – American analyst explained.
The conference, whose main partner was Energa Group, was organized by the Institute for Eastern Studies in Warsaw.
- Plenary Session
- 3 Thematic Groups, each composed of panel discussions, reports, presentations, lectures, key-note speeches:
- I. Exploration / Transport / Processing of Hydrocarbons
- II. Production and Distribution of Energy
- III. Renewables/Climate Policy/Ecology and Environmental Protection
- Participation of stake holders: business representatives, leading experts and key politicians from Poland and abroad;
- Arrival of guests
- Report Presentation
- Discussion panel
- Plenary session
- Thematic Blocks (panels, presentations, key-note speeches)
- Thematic Blocks (panels, presentations, key-note speeches)
- Departure of guests
The Forum is intended to serve as a discussion platform for polititians, business executives and experts. About 400 people from Poland and abroad are expected to participate in the Forum..
Conference center: Sheraton Hotel Sopot*****, Conference Center & Spa
Address: Powstańców Warszawy 10, 81-718 Sopot