Pathways to regional energy transition in the Mediterranean area

25th September 2019

News ArticleEurope24th CongressExperiencesMember Committees

Pathways to regional energy transition in the Mediterranean area

A seminar organized by World Energy Council Italy was held on 9 September 2019 in Abu Dhabi, during the 24th World Energy Congress

The World Energy Council’s Italian committee, Observatoire Mediterraneeen de l’Energie (OME), who also serve as Secretariat of the Union of the Mediterranean Gas Platform, and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) organised a closed door seminar entitled “Pathways To Regional Energy Transition In The Mediterranean Area”, following on from the end of this year’s World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi. 

In cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the seminar was part of the Towards MED dialogues 2019 event. The seminar focused on current Mediterranean energy transition activities and the needed pathways for countries in the region to launch structured regional cooperation on a sustainable Mediterranean energy transition plan.


His Execellency Liborio Stellino, Ambassador of Italy to the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the delegates with an institutional address recalling the importance of interconnections, integration and innovation for prosperity of energy and economic systems and relevant industrial partnerships of Italian companies in the United Arab Emirates and the Region.

Interesting takeaways emerged from keynote speeches and discussant interactions:  

  • Primary energy demand in the Mediterranean Region is expected to grow substantially over the next 25 years spurred by sustained population (+105 million compared to 2013) and economic growth in the region (+2.3% per year on average). According to data released by the OME, energy consumption would double by 2040 in the South Mediterranean countries and electricity consumption would triple. Carbon dioxide emissions would increase by 45% for the whole region and more than double in the South Mediterranean.
  • The paradigm of a new energy system based on the partnership between renewable energies and natural gas is confirmed for the Mediterranean Region. The only fossil fuel to increase its consumption will be natural gas. In the electricity sector, while countries in the Northern shore of the Mediterranean Sea will experience a significant increase in renewable energies, the southern shore will see natural gas as the main component of power mix in next decades.
  • Important gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean can significantly lower import dependence for this source. In particular, Algeria, Egypt and Israel can meet the bulk of future domestic gas needs in the region.
  • However, the increasing demand of energy in the region poses security issues as domestic demand competes with hydrocarbon exports. In addition, climate change in the Mediterranean Sea will have a strong impact requiring policies and investments in adaptation and energy diversification strategies.
  • Energy efficiency together with deployment of renewable energies will be key to address these issues. The integration of renewables also with hydrocarbons can play an important role in the Southern Mediterranean Region.
  • Efficiency and renewable energies are confirmed as high priority issues in the Mediterranean agenda of energy leaders shaped by World Energy Issues Monitor 2019. Related to these trends, electric storage and digitalization of energy systems are among the main technological “critical uncertainties” keeping the attention of energy leaders.
  • IRENA studies and analyses suggest that global renewable deployment is driven by cost competitiveness, enabling policies and technology development. While the Mediterranean Region is not on track to face the climate change issues, the region is already host to renewable resources that are among the most competitive ones at global level.
  • The sensitiveness of the Mediterranean region to climate change strengthens the need for power system integration to adapt electricity networks to the new context: increase in electricity demand, deployment of renewable variable sources, expanding natural gas needs and extreme weather conditions.
  • By 2030, the bulk of power generation capacity increases in the Mediterranean will come from renewable energies and seasonal complementarities between North and South can be exploited if interconnections will be properly developed.
  • The MED-TSO is working on these issues with a work-plan that aims at optimizing existing interconnections and assess the possibility to built new lines.
  • Considering the increasing role of natural gas in the Region, the integration between electricity and gas networks must be seen as a cooperative platform able to foster energy transition. In these framework, renewable gases (including bio-methane) and its uses through gas systems represent an important option towards de-carbonization pathways.

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