Turkey 2017 | ENERGY | FOCUS

The 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul finished yesterday after a four-day program that gathered the world's leading officials and executives, who discussed the critical issues facing the energy industry and gave us an insight into future trends in the industry.

Under the theme “Embracing New Frontiers," nearly 10,000 people from 85 countries—including 250 ministers and top decision makers—attended this triennial congress that this year envisioned the future for the energy industry, a landscape in which alternative sources and new technologies will pave the way to reducing CO2 emissions.

After around 40 conferences, events, and roundtables, the participants addressed a wide array of topics, ranging from energy security to new policies and strategies for sustainability, and made some remarkable comments, the best of which we've brought together:

1- “We support the recent initiative of OPEC to fix oil production limits."

- Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.

On the opening day of the Congress, the Russian premiere announced that Russia would join OPEC in freezing or even reducing the production of oil in order to increase oil prices. Oil prices jumped 3% following the announcement. Shortly after his address, Putin held talks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has long sought support for production cuts.

2- "We look positively at the Turkish Stream project. Our efforts are continuing."

- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey.

The World Energy Congress was the second time President Putin and President Erdoğan have met since the bringing down of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border in November. The Turkish President announced the recommencement of a pipeline that had been halted in the wake of tensions. Originally proposed by Putin in 2014, the pipeline would bring Russian natural gas to Europe across the Black Sea, making it easier for Russia to cut off gas to Ukraine without disrupting sales to other markets. To some extent, the Turkish Stream would be a competitor to the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP), which will bring Caspian gas from Azerbaijan through Turkey and into Europe. Minutes later, Putin and Erdoğan signed a formal agreement to provide the construction of a main pipeline along the floor of the Black Sea.

3- “The peak oil debate belongs to the past: the reality is that per capita demand for energy will peak before 2030."

- Statement issued by the World Energy Council on October 9, 2016, ahead of the 23rd WEC.

In the first of seven pronouncements on “the new realities for energy," the World Energy Council boldly predicted that production will outstrip demand within 14 years, reversing the paradigm that the biggest challenge facing the sector is waning supply. The Council anticipates that oil demand will grow only 20% over the next 45 years, boding well for energy substitution proponents and creating investment challenges for conventional energy companies. The concept of peak demand factored into a number of major addresses at the 23rd WEC.

4- “The goal in Turkey is for nuclear to provide 10% of our total power generation by 2023, and a third nuclear plant project is on our agenda. (…) Our energy demand is almost three times the global average and expected to double by 2030."

- Binali Yıldırım, PM of Turkey.

The Turkish Prime Minister spoke about Turkey's strategic location at the crossroads of key energy routes between the Caspian, the Middle East, and Europe and the country's need to diversify—particularly through the development of nuclear—in the years to come. For the time being, however, fossil fuels will remain key to supplying Turkey's ever-expanding energy needs and the energy security of the broader region.

5- “If you asked an educated European in the 17th century what electricity was, few would have any idea. (..) We need to seek out and support the future Michael Faradays in our midst."

- Younghoon David Kim, World Energy Council co-chair.

Younghoon David Kim addressed the 4th Industrial Revolution that will come as a result of climate change, automation, and digitalization, among others. Optimistic about the prospects of alternative green technologies to meet future global supplies, he mused upon many of the potential future sources of the future: grid-connected tidal power machinery, high-altitude wind power, and even microbial energy resources that harness the power of the cell to generate energy.

6 - “In the UAE we believe that one of the pillars of society is clean energy. There is a role for us as government to enable this shift from being purely dependent on fossil fuels to allowing competition from newer forms of energy."

- Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy of the UAE.

The UAE has a standing commitment to diversification away from oil, and the minister's comments on the country's plans reiterated those intentions. The minister has previously said that the alternative energy investments would focus on nuclear and solar power. The UAE has some of the highest per-capital power consumption in the world.

7- “I commend the World Energy Council for helping shape a sustainability narrative through the Energy Trilemma Concept."

- Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General, United Nations.

The World Energy Council is a UN-accredited body that works closely with governments and organizations to inform the global conversation on energy. The Energy Trilemma concept has been put forward by the WEC and consists of the three key areas that must be addressed to ensure energy sustainability. They are energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability.

8 - "Over the past few years we have succeeded in convincing the government that biofuel production is needed. Our oil will not last more than 40 years and our gas will not last more than 60 years."

- Abubakar Sani Sambo, Special Advisor to the President of Nigeria.

Nigeria has struggled with low oil prices over the past year, and yet those same lower rates have lent new urgency to the country's diversification efforts. Biofuels are a clear piece of the puzzle for Nigeria, whose government is also working to improve agricultural production in a country with vast tracts of underutilized but fertile land.

9- “ Ecuador has identified hydro power potential and has decided to invest and to undertake the construction of eight hydro power projects simultaneously."

- Dr. Esteban Albornoz Vintimilla, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy of Ecuador.

Ecuador has committed to sourcing more of its power from hydropower projects. The projects are often small and dispersed, which can reduce impact on the environment, and currently 85% of the electricity consumed in Ecuador comes from hydro sources and renewables.

10- “I believe digitization will be the single greatest enabler of the grand transition to 2060."

- Steve Bolze, Chief Executive of GE Power

Bolze referred to the various efficiency gains to be had from digitization of energy management—in improving plant efficiency, reducing transmission losses, and even enabling consumers to become producers.

Published October 14, 2016