WEC's Bi-Monthly Commentary on Energy Issues, 1 March 2009
2009 EA Website to Open Soon
Despite the country's recent financial turmoil, our Icelandic Member Committee has been hard at work preparing to host the 2009 Executive Assembly. The EA will take place at the Hilton (Nordica) Hotel in Reykjavik from 16-19 September.
The Standing Committee meetings and Developing Countries Plenary will take place on 16 September, with Iceland Energy Day and the WEC Secretaries meeting on 17 September, Finance Committee and Officers Council on 18 September and the EA Plenary on Saturday, 19 September. We are also trying to fit in meetings of our regional groups; more details will be provided as soon as we have confirmed the final schedule of meetings.
The Reykjavik EA will be held in conjunction with an Icelandic Energy Week, and a variety of technical tours, accompanying person tours and social events will also take place. Delegates may visit the world famous Blue Lagoon or the Geyser Park, where they can watch the impressive Geyser and Strokkur erupt.
The Icelandic Member Committee is working to get the EA website up and running so that WEC members can begin registering and booking hotels. They hope to open the website by 8 March, but keep checking the WEC website homepage, where the opening of the EA website will be announced as soon as it is ready, and a link to the site will be provided.
The Reykjavik EA will also be the first time that many of our members will have an opportunity to meet the new WEC Secretary General, Christoph Frei, in person. We will also elect a number of new officers, including the WEC Chair and Chairs of the Standing Committees, and select the site for the 2011 Executive Assembly, as well as hearing updates of how WEC's 2008 work programme is progressing.
I invite all WEC members to participate in the 2009 EA. If you have questions, please contact Emily Melton, Director, Member Services (firstname.lastname@example.org).
WEC Europe Regional Meeting
The annual joint EC-WEC Europe Seminar and first European regional meeting of 2009 were held in Brussels on 20 February, hosted by the European Commission. More than 50 participants representing 23 European MCs, along with managers of European gas companies and WEC and EC staff, took part. The seminar was co-chaired by Johannes Teyssen, WEC Vice Chair for Europe, and Andris Piebalgs, the EU Commissioner for Energy. This was the fourth in a series of informal joint seminars between the Commission and WEC Europe.
The joint seminar focused on two important topics that concern European energy industry, namely, the recent crisis with the gas supply from Russia via Ukraine to Europe, and the impact of the current financial crisis on investment in the energy sector.
The Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute, which began earlier this year, was linked to the agreement on gas price and transit tariffs when their bilateral gas supply contract came due for renewal. When negotiations broke down, a significant disruption of gas supply occurred between 7-19 January. Ukraine transits Russian gas from Russia to Central and Southern Europe but also consumes a huge volume, on the order of up to 80 BCM/year. A panel discussion focused on the lessons learned from the crisis; panellists included the top managers of some of the affected companies, such as the Slovak gas company, Romanian TRANSGAZ and OMV-Austria, as well the Secretary General of Energy Charter and the Chief of the EC Unit of Energy Policy & Security of Energy Supply. At the EC level, a number of new regulatory mechanisms will be developed over the next six months. The ECU Recovery Plan will provide more incentives for enhancing EU internal cross-border connections and storage capacities and seek to encourage less national protectionism and more "confidence-solidarity" mechanisms between European companies. The crisis will almost certainly contribute to accelerated investments in new diversification of supply routes and sources.
The second topic of the joint seminar was the global financial crisis and it likely impact on the energy sector over the next two years. WEC Vice Chair for Europe Johannes Teyssen had earlier suggested that a questionnaire designed to gather this information be sent to WEC Europe Member Committees. The results of the questionnaire, which were presented at the seminar, showed that:
The current slowdown of the global economy is likely to exert strong pressure on energy demand in the short term, with the economy expected to pick back up in 2010-2011.
Residential power demand is unlikely to fall significantly, while power demand for industry could fall by up to 10% in a number of the European industries.
The decline in energy demand would not necessarily involve price reductions for utility customers because consumer pricing is politically sensitive, especially with the current low prices of fossil fuels.
Investments should remain relatively stable in the energy sector compared to other sectors of the economy.
In some cases, delays and cancellations of projects have occurred, but once demand starts growing again, investments should increase.
Insufficient investment in the supply chain will likely lead to reconsideration of the extension of the service life of supply capacity.
Investments in RD&D will likely decrease, including for consumption capacities, but are expected to remain stable for environmental improvements.
The European regional meeting held in conjunction with the EU-WEC seminar was chaired by Johannes Teyssen. The main topics for discussion were the WEC Europe contribution to the upcoming events on climate change, namely the World Business Summit on Climate Change (Copenhagen, May); and COP-15 (Copenhagen, December). European members agreed that these could be good occasions to highlight the WEC regional study on "Emission Trading and Climate Change Policy, Beyond 2012".
WEC's study on Assessment of Energy Policy and Practices was discussed, and WEC Director of Studies Dr. Robert Schock reviewed the study's current status, what would be expected from WEC members, working modalities and expected output.
Also during the meeting, Elena Nekhaev, WEC Director of Programmes, gave a presentation on the 2010 Congress in Montreal.
Indian Member Committee Takes Active Role
WEC's Indian Member Committee (WEC-IMC) is playing an active role in involving and bringing together the Indian energy sector and promoting the sustainable supply and use of energy. A recent initiative of the Committee, in partnership with the All India Womens' Conference (AIWC) and with the support of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), was a Solar Energy Fair in Vasant Kunj, an area of nearly 4,000 residential flats in New Delhi. The purpose of the event was to create greater awareness about the use of solar appliances, such as water heaters and cookers, in daily life. Financial assistance and subsidies are being extended by the government to support such appliances, and banks are also becoming involved. The Solar Energy Fair was attended by the Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, representatives from six manufacturers of solar equipment and two banks. WEC-IMC has plans to replicate this initiative and hold a number of Energy Fairs across the country to encourage the use of solar appliances.
WEC-IMC also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Institution of Engineers (India) (IEI) on 10 February; the goal of the collaborative partnerships is to pool the resources of both organisations to create greater awareness of energy efficiency and conservation and to disseminate information on best practices in the public sector. The IEI has 99 chapters across the world, with more than 70 chapters in India, and also operates the prestigious Engineering Staff College of India in Hyderabad. This new initiative will increase the opportunities to promote WEC's work and cultivate a culture of energy conservation and efficiency for better utilisation of existing resources. National Thermal Power Corporation, a leading energy sector utility in India, has agreed to support the initiative by providing faculty from the NTPC staff to share information on best practices in the power sector.
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