The 23rd World Energy Congress has kicked off in Istanbul. Ten thousand participants, members of the World Energy Council, from 85 countries, are meeting at a large four-day summit, the main theme of which is “Embracing New Frontiers”, projected towards innovative ideas and concepts that look directly to the future. Approximately 250 ministers and heads of state will meet with global finance leaders, companies driving the energy sector, academics, state companies and non-governmental organizations, arriving at Istanbul to compose the complicated network responsible for proposing stable and eco-friendly energy strategies and models, from which benefits can be drawn on a national, regional and global scale.
An unprecedented international parterre
While awaiting the speech of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, doing the honors was Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak who, in his opening speech, expressed the hope that in the next four days of meetings “new horizons” will open up, and that the purpose all participants will work towards will be to bring the world “energy for peace”. Ministers of 54 countries are expected, including from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Argentina, Tanzania, Bolivia and Uruguay. At the same time, the top management of 250 energy giants, including Russia’s Gazprom, Saudi’s Aramco, British Petroleum, Royal, Socar and Shell will participate.
New geopolitical balance in the East
The arrival of both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s Minister of Energy Alexander Novak, forebode important developments as regards Turkish Stream, the project expected to transport natural gas via the Black Sea from Istanbul and, from there, to Europe. The thawing between Ankara and Moscow started in June: the gas pipeline is now awaiting the white smoke, as confirmed by Minister Novak on the eve of the start of the World Energy Congress. Representing Europe, for which Turkish Stream is of central importance, is the Vice President of the European Commission of Energy Union, Marcoš Šefčovič. Meanwhile, on the same subject, the Turkish Minister of Energy, Albayrak, recently revealed that he has “great expectations’ for the summit, “to be able to implement the project”. One of the global issues on the agenda concerns the risks linked to cyber-attacks and hacking operations, to which the energy industry is particularly exposed. Making the issue concerning are the interconnections between the energy system and the economy of the countries, which makes significant repercussions in the latter possible as a result of cyber-attacks. The presentation of the report “The road to resilience: managing cyber risks”, aimed at offering solutions in digital and cyber risk management, responds to a cry of alarm raised by the Secretary General of the World Energy Council, Christoph Frei, which included cyber-attacks among “the main threats to the world economies”. According to Frei, the ability of cyber-attacks to remain undetected for a long time, or until such time when “the damage is irreparable”, data have been stolen or entire infrastructure are knocked out of use.
Alternative energy as the key player
The global theme par excellence on the agenda, however, remains that of renewables. It starts with data confirming that 2015 was a record year, with investments amounting to $286 billion, which boosted the production capacity from to 154GW in 2015. A figure much larger than the 97GW produced through investments in the traditional resources sector. Another starting point is the growth in hydropower production, currently capable of accounting for 23% of global production and the boom in the last 10 years of wind and solar power, which have grown by 23% and 50%, respectively. The summit aims to address the issue of renewables in order to both consolidate their role and centrality within the traditional energy scene and to accelerate the phase of transition phase through the carbon economy, the fate of which has dragged on too slowly, despite being marked for years.
Goals focusing on energy security
The agenda provides for 265 speakers and a list of 65 topics to be covered between October 10 and 13. The opening is dedicated to the future of global energy, while the second day will focus on the management of resources and business opportunities and solutions to ensure sustainable and stable energy models. Security will be the focus of the third day, with the challenge of the “Energy Trilemma”: energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability. The closure will be dedicated to Africa, whose huge potential in terms of renewables is expected to be a turning point for the entire continent, provided that the projects do not remain on paper and that solutions are found to attract the capital needed to create an energy network that exploits resources in a sustainable manner.