FOREN 2012: gas and grid infrastructure, market liberalisation high on agenda

Posted on 22 June 2012

FOREN 2012More than 700 energy experts and policymakers gathered at the Central and Eastern Europe Energy Forum (FOREN 2012) in Neptun, Romania (17-21 June 2012) to discuss the region’s critical issues.

The issues include national and regional energy policies for the security of supply; electricity markets and the regulatory framework; regional policies on fossil fuel resources; clean coal technologies; energy efficiency; and environment protection.

FOREN 2012, organised once every two years by the WEC Romanian Member Committee, has been designated from this year as the WEC’s official regional meeting for Central and Eastern Europe. It aimed to support the WEC’s mission of facilitating a dialogue on energy policies for a sustainable energy future.

Iulian Iancu, WEC Romania chairman, said at the opening ceremony: “The forum’s conclusions will be taken into consideration by the Romanian government [for its] future energy policies.”

At the opening ceremony, Ioan Dan Gheorghiu, Vice-chairman WEC Romania, delivered a message from the Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Ponta expressed his appreciation to the region’s energy companies and policymakers for their collaboration, and thanked the WEC for its continual support for the national Member Committees in South-east, Central, and Eastern Europe, in countries including Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, and the Baltic states.

Iulian Iancu, WEC Romania chairman, said: “The forum’s conclusions will be taken into consideration by the Romanian government [for its] future energy policies.” This statement was also underlined in the message delivered on behalf of Ponta.

Speakers in the opening ceremony called for greater focus on addressing the trade-offs between the energy policy trilemma. This requires resolving the key energy challenges in the broader region.

Slav Slavov
Slav Slavov

The speakers said the region still lacks a gas infrastructure, particularly in south-eastern Europe to which Russia is still the only gas supplier. The construction of large-scale pipelines for bringing gas from the Caspian basin has been slow, while there is a scarcity of gas suppliers. Geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East and in the south-east Mediterranean is also casting doubts over the security of gas supply.

However, they recognised that with the increasing importance of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the potential development of shale gas in countries such as Romania and Poland, the region’s gas market could be developed into a global one, as in the case of oil. This could change the structure of gas pricing and the nature of long-term contracts.

There were calls for extending and strengthening the region’s electricity grids, which currently cannot accommodate the electricity supplied by renewables. The region has seen significant development of wind and solar energy in recent years, supported by European and national policies.

During the meeting speakers also discussed the current status of countries’ implementation of the EU Third Package for Electricity and Gas markets, which aims to liberalise the markets by 2014 through the creation of a single European market.

FOREN 2012
Panel of speakers at FOREN 2012

FOREN also played host to three WEC workshops on the performance of power generating plants, energy efficiency, and the WEC survey of energy resources and technologies, where participants discussed the next steps of the WEC’s various work streams.

FOREN 2012 was attended by 96 participants from outside Romania, including 14 CEOs, 10 presidents of companies and associations; and 73 top experts and policymakers from the energy industry and WEC Member Committees. FOREN 2012 also hosted a technical exhibition with 60 booths and 44 exhibitors.

Iulian Iancu, Chairman of WEC Romania, closed the forum on 21 June. The best three papers from each of the five discussion sessions, and also the best paper presented by young professionals, were presented with awards at this ceremony.

WEC Romania will prepare and distribute a round-up volume with conclusions from the event to all participants, the Romanian government, and WEC Member Committees.

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