Energy policy stuck in a global trilemma – WEC Austria event

WEC Austria gathered more than 200 delegates at its event “World Energy Trilemma – sustainability, economics, energy security” on 10 February.

Dr Johann Sereinig, Chair of WEC Austria and Deputy Director General of Verbund AG

Dr Johann Sereinig, Chair of WEC Austria discussed the Trilemma within a European context

Dr Johann Sereinig, Chair of WEC Austria and Deputy Director General of Verbund AG, placed the energy trilemma within a European context in his opening speech: “If one soberly analyses the current situation in the European energy market, one comes to the conclusion that the goal of a secure, sustainable, and affordable energy supply is increasingly at risk.”

Furthermore, “the current market situation, with extremely low wholesale electricity prices, provides no incentives for necessary power plant investments in the future. Europe is losing competitiveness, local challenges to supply security are already occurring and the European emissions trading system currently provides no impetus to reduce CO2 emissions, making it difficult to switch to a climate-friendly production system,” underlined Sereinig.

“Based on the European example, the presented developments show how difficult it is to achieve a balance between a secure, sustainable, and affordable energy supply. It requires a market-oriented framework and a competitive environment, so that these objectives can be achieved in a cost-effective manner,” he concluded.

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Professor Karl Rose, WEC Senior Director of Policies and Scenarios summarised the world energy trilemma from a global perspective

Karl Rose, WEC Senior Director of Policies and Scenarios and professor at the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship at the Karl-Franzens University of Graz summarised the world energy trilemma from a global perspective. “Future energy systems must be stable, affordable, and environmentally friendly. This sounds simple and logical. Nevertheless, it is an enormous challenge for science, research and the energy sector.” Climate policy and economics place stresses on the energy supply and “must always be taken into consideration,” he added.

As a concrete and highly topical example concerning the different worldwide approaches to sustainable energy supply, Professor Rose talked about the future role of renewable energy sources in the EU, based on the example of shale gas production in the US. The approach to energy policy in the two continents could not be more different. “Concerning this aspect, new solutions of cooperation are in demand more than ever,” underlined Professor Rose.

The fact that different nations will look for different energy management approaches and solutions will also significantly affect the 21st Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP-21), which will be held at the end of this year. One of the core concerns of global climate policy is what will happen after the Kyoto Protocol and which climate tasks will be adopted after 2020? According to Professor Rose, “without a global climate agreement, we will be unable to maintain Europe’s economic competitiveness.”

The WEC Austria event was organized with the Graz University of Technology, Energie Steiermark and Andritz Hydro.

  • More information on the event on http://www.wec-austria.at in the “downloads” area.
  • WEC Austria will be holding the workshop, “Storage for the Energy Turnaround”, on 25 February. More information can be found on our events page