For the third consecutive year the Foundation for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (FUNSEAM) and the Department of Energy Sustainability at the University of Barcelona organized an international symposium dedicated to energy markets and sustainability. The Symposium was held at the Barcelona Science Park on 2 and 3 February, and was attended by significant personalities from the business and academic world of energy. The Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria opened the meeting accompanied by the Board of Funseam. The dual business and academic focus is the main feature of this Symposium and a factor that differentiates it from other events taking place in this environment. This approach can address the same issue from both perspectives offering the ability to obtain additional findings that may help develop new designs for energy policy.
The material chosen as the focal point of the Symposium this year is markets and energy infrastructure and sustainability. The President of the Energy Club posed the major challenges facing the sector and the President of Siemens addressed the relationship between energy and new technologies and the role of self-regulation in achieving sustainability. The binomial energy market/sustainability is a particularly relevant topic, especially when European institutions are being given a strong impetus for the development of the single energy market and have been set new goals for sustainability in 2030. Christopher Jones, Deputy Director General for Energy of the European Commission highlighted this with his lecture on the morning of the first day of the symposium.
Achieving the new challenges of energy policy requires as a prerequisite the attainment of well-designed and operational energy markets. Thus the performance of the markets faced with competitive conditions, affordability and security of supply, with presentations on capacity markets and demand response, are all significant in discussions about electricity markets. The functioning of the gas market and recent developments, key to pricing, were also addressed. The oil market and the sharp fall in oil prices was of course also part of the debate.
Furthermore, the proper functioning of markets necessarily requires the development of transport and distribution infrastructure. The World Energy Investment Outlook 2014 published by the International Energy Agency estimates a need for investment of nearly $9 billion in transport and distribution of gas and electricity worldwide by 2035. Incorporating new information technology, the integration of renewable energy and the development of distributed generation redefines the design of the network model and requires a new regulatory approach.
The focus of discussion now on the networks are interconnections. This is an issue of particular concern to Europe currently, but also seriously affects the Iberian peninsula, which today is still considered to be an “energy island”. Although optimal levels of interconnection between Spain and Portugal have been achieved, the problem lies in the poor electricity interconnection between Spain and France. The strengthening of interconnections is considered key to achieving the European single market and to improving security of supply. The objective of the internal energy market is also to argument gas interconnections. The integration of the European gas market can not advance without interconnections with southern Europe. In turn, the risk arising for a number of European countries dependendent on Russian gas justifies the need to increase gas interconnection capacity between Spain and France. Project development like MidCat mitigates this dependency, improving security of supply across the continent. The conditions of the Iberian Peninsula are optimal to have 8 LNG plants, plus supply through pipelines from North Africa. Spain could well be the gas hub in southern Europe. The last aspect to be highlighted in business discussions is the presentation of various sustainable energy projects carried out in Latin America, a market that offers great opportunities as a result of their growth potential and the start of the liberalization process as in Mexico.
We can not conclude without underlining the section dedicated to the design of public policies that closed the academic day and two-day symposium. The aim was to progress with regulation to achieve greater security of supply, affordability and sustainability.
In short, the FUNSEAM International Symposium debated all topics that are setting the agenda for the energy sector and are key to its future development. The work of sponsorship to promote energy sustainability by the leading companies in the energy sector (Repsol, Endesa, ACS, Enagas CLH, Gas Natural Fenosa and EDP Renováveis Cepsa) made it possible once again, for this event to be key in international analysis and research of the energy sector.
Maria Teresa Costa Campi
Professor in Economics
Director of the Chair in Energy Sustainability
Coordinator of Strategic Projects, FUNSEAM