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EBRD 2016 Annual Meeting: Energy Union

By Svitlana  Pyrkalo

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The Road to an Energy Union

Featuring the European Commission’s Vice President, Maroš Šefčovič, this discussion on energy security at the EBRD’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Business Forum focused on several interconnected areas: the current efforts by the European Commission to promote energy union and achieve a sustainable diversification of routes and supplies with both transit and supply countries; sustainable energy, renewables and carbon reduction; the effect of oil prices on the energy industry, and more.

The panelists were Maroš Šefčovič, EC VP in charge of the Energy Union, Marc Benayoun, CEO of Edison Spa, and Peter Mather, BP’s Group Regional Vice President, Europe and Head of Country, UK.

The panel was moderated by the EBRD’s Managing Director for Energy and Natural Resources, Riccardo Puliti.

Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, commented also on Ukraine-Russia gas relations. A compromise can be found in the situation with Russian gas transit via Ukraine,and there is an increased consensus to maintain transit despite any other possible alternative routes, he said.

European Commission's Vice President in charge of Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, talks about energy security in Europe at our Annual Meeting 2016.

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Ways of diversification of energy supply to Europe were discussed. The EBRD is considering financing the construction of two new pipelines which will form part of the Southern Gas Corridor which will bring gas from the Caspian fields to Europe, the TAP and TANAP.

In addition to Southern Gas Corridor, other alternative routes are possible, for instance a pipeline from the massive Leviathan field in the Mediterranean, said Marc Benayoun.

He also said that if Europe does not get competitively priced gas, a number of industries will leave Europe to places where gas is cheaper. He called on Europe to recognise the role of gas in its future economy and to reduce the use of coal.

The switch from gas to coal is the easiest way to cut CO2 emissions, said Peter Mather of BP. Replacing one per cent of coal with gas equals 11 per cent of renewable energy generation in terms of cutting emissions. Energy efficiency is another low-hanging fruit, he added.

Energy efficiency is crucial for countries like Ukraine, Maroš Šefčovič agreed. If Ukraine had energy intensity of an average Western European country, it would not only save as much energy as Spain uses; it would become a net energy exporter.

The panellists also discussed renewable energy, especially in North Africa where solar and wind potential are very high.

The EBRD is the largest renewable energy investor in its regions and a major force in involving private sector banks in sustainable energy financing through its Sustainable Energy Financing Facilities.

Its Green Economy Transition approach sets out ambitious goals for sustainable energy financing.

The Bank has also supported, and continues to support, major cross-border energy schemes aimed at better energy security and better use of sustainable energy resources (for example the BTC pipeline, the Black Sea Transmission Line from Georgia to Turkey and the planned CASA1000 line which will bring hydro energy from Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to Afghanistan and Pakistan).

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