Energy Efficiency and Smart Grids was the title of the debate conference that took place on October 15th, starting with 09h30 in the morning, at the Place of the Parliament’s venue in Bucharest. The event was part of a sequence of conferences hosted by the Industry and Services Commission, with special focus on energy, internal energy market, liberalisation legislative package, and industry, both from a European and national perspective.
Publicly announced with several weeks in advance, the organisers, namely Energy Centre Romania, and the Romanian Member Committee of the World Energy Council, with the special participation of KIC InnoEnergy representatives, received a positive response from the audience that showed great interest in the topic. The debate, divided into two panels – Smart Grids and their last developments and the forthcoming evolutions of energy efficiency strategies in buildings and industry, closed with a discussion-table session, and gathered practitioners of the energy field, traders, members of the Romanian Parliament, and specialized press.
Among the most prominent and distinguished key-speakers to take the floor were Mr Kenneth Johansson, CEO of KIC InnoEnergy Sweden, Mr Arshad Saleem, Assisting Thematic Leader Smart Grid & Storage at the KTH University, Sweden, Ms Lucienne Krosse, Thematic Field Leader in Smart and Efficient Buildings and Crisis, Mr Laurent Thibaudeau, PhD, Thematic Field Leader in Energy Efficiency in Industry, Mr Iulian Iancu, PhD, President of the Romanian National Committee of the World Energy Council and President of the Chamber of Deputies Industry and Services Commission, Mr Dumitru Federenciuc, PhD, Head of Strategy at Electrica SA, Mr Mihai Varlam, PhD, Head of Unit ICSI – National Centre for Hydrogen & Fuel Cell.
Especially by virtue of its thematic and technical approach, the conference had considerable relevance in the context of the latest evolutions at European level in the field of energy, moreover, their impact on the security of supply in terms of innovative projects, infrastructure, and sources of energy. The participants extensively focused their interventions on the interactions between entrepreneurial activities, research and development fields, efficient solutions in energy consumption within the framework of an improved national legislation, a predictable and consistent business environment, and future challenges envisaged to take place on a medium-term evolution of energy markets in Europe and around the world.
Mr Iancu, host of the event, initiated the debate by giving a well-reasoned preceding speech on the purpose of the gathering. Subsequently, he introduced the proposed themes for discussions, and highlighted the most challenging problems the energy sector confronted with. In his view, once the EU would have initiated the adjustments concerning the energy package, the definition of the free, liberalised, and competitive energy market’s role was one step away. With respect to the evolutions of the energy sector, the year 2014 remains a fundamental challenging one in terms of the completion of the energy market, the priorities envisaged to be taken into account for the next decades, interconnection or storage infrastructure projects.
On behalf of KIC InnoEnergy, Mr Johansson took the floor and presented to the audience the main goals and present achievements of KIC in Europe. EIT – The European Innovation and Technology programme is an EU financed opportunity for sustainable energy starting 2008, with the mission to increase the European competitiveness and growth, to reinforce the innovation capacity of the EU Member States. To put this in a more dynamic perspective, EIT became a link between sustainable products and services in energy, on the one hand, and research and innovation centres, on the other hand.
KIC InnoEnergy is active in its six centres located in various European countries, such as Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Poland, and France, and presently works with more than 200 partners in the related industries, research centres, universities and business schools, leading to the so-called knowledge triangle of education, innovation, and business creation. Main activity areas of KIC are in Renewable Energies, Clean Coal Technologies, Energy Efficiency, Smart Electric Grid, Smart Cities & Buildings, whereas the specific goals are to decrease energy cost, security of supply, CO2 emission reduction. As a general consideration, the above-mentioned goals meet the main indicators of energy security concept as theorised by leading experts: affordability (decrease energy cost), availability (security of supply in terms of sources and infrastructure), and stewardship (environmental protection and sustainability). Furthermore, linking research area to business opportunities enhanced the design of innovation projects that translate into the transformation of available knowledge into new marketable products and services related to the field of sustainable energy that creates positive impact on market and society by decreasing energy cost, increasing intrinsic operational safety, and reducing GHG emissions.
One major discussion topic on the conference agenda was the introduction of Smart Grid technology. In a well-structured presentation, KIC InnoEnergy representatives, Mr Johansson, and Mr Saleem, provided the audience with relevant information. A simple example that one would think of the use of Smart Grid would be the capacity of storing renewable energy properly, since, for instance illustrated by a simple example, sources such as solar energy decreases according to seasonal variations (summer/ winter). Therefore, the Smart Grid would not only improve energy storage capacity, but also provide centralized and distributed power generation, multi-directional power flow, or real-time data.
Smart Grid panel was the perfect opportunity to find out more about the difficulties and vulnerabilities an aging energy infrastructure causes for the national energy security. Accordingly, Mr Federenciuc delivered a speech that proved a deep comprehension of the Romanian and European cases, strengthening the idea that the Smart Grid represents an innovative solution to the technologically improvement of the electric grids, since Romania faces challenges regarding the reliability of the electric infrastructure. Smart Grid incorporates the distribution management system, the generation system, the smart measuring system, the network administration system, which are all chain components of the national energy security system. Smart Grid is both innovative and requires an expensive technology but would finally decrease the considerable costs of energy and improve the security of the national energy system.
The second panel was opened by Ms Krosse and Mr Thibaudeau on the topics of energy efficiency in buildings and in industry. Scientists support the premise that around 35% of the primary energy used and 30% of CO2 emissions occur inside buildings. In accordance with the EU goals, energy-neutral buildings are expected to become a common practice of the Member States by year 2020, since they would reduce the CO2 emission by 20-30%. Few most important challenges encountered on the way of achieving this objective would be the reduction of the energy demand by introducing new energy and efficient and cost-effective components and systems, enable a wide implementation of renewable sources of energy, new integrated and compact storage systems, or upgrading of the aging energy infrastructure. In this respect, four strategies are designed in order to achieve the goals: local energy supply, conversion and storage; energy efficient buildings; local energy networks within the city; intelligent energy efficient cities. Some of the related projects that KIC released are: ESC – Energy Supply Cooperative, ESTORE – Electrical Energy Storage Device for Cold Stores, DCCS – Dwelling Climate Control System, BEEST – Building Energy Efficiency Management, all of which share technologies that contribute towards saving energy and reducing damaging emissions. Linked to this topic was the presentation given by Mr Varlam, Romanian researcher, who introduced to the public the most recent developments in what concerns the energy efficiency initiatives. One such example is EXPLORER which stands for Experimental Platform for Optimal Integration of Renewable Energy in Romania, a research and development project proposal describing a path towards decarbonisation in Romania.
While the EU approach is changing and a new outlook on a long-term horizon is being designed at Brussels, Romania, as a Member State, needs to define its priorities in terms of energy policies for the next decades. Innovative solutions as those professionally presented by KIC InnoEnergy representatives would mean setting a path toward a sustainable energy consumption, lower prices for energy, growth and competitiveness, which might have the potential to transform Romania into a reliable regional energy partner.