Next steps for energy systems integration (Organized by Agora Energiewende)

Linking policy and practice for clean energy transitions across sectors

Agora Energiewende and the International Energy Agency (IEA) are hosting a public event to discuss global perspectives for energy systems integration. The current trend towards electrifying transport, heating and industry represents a unique opportunity to decarbonise sectors, previously seen as hard to abate in terms of emissions. This, along with key resources such as hydrogen, contributes to broadening the scope of options to integrate ever greater shares of variable renewable energy (VRE) and accelerate the decarbonisation of the wider energy system.  This event will shed light on the opportunities and challenges integrating electric vehicles into the power system and of synthetic fuel production and use.

Ambitious climate targets and the new order of geopolitics

The global energy transformation driven by renewables will have significant implications on the geopolitical realities. To the extent that renewable energy reduces demand for oil and gas and increases energy independency of states, there will be significant geopolitical consequences: The energy transition is about to speed up through increased ambition to reduce C02 emissions by a number of states and regional entities. The European Union has committed itself in December 2019 to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and adopted the European Green Deal to pave the way for the road ahead. CO2 pricing schemes, coal exit plans and hydrogen strategies have considerably increased in numbers. At the same time, forward leaning energy transition policies were met by fierce opposition in some countries adding to polarization in societies and threatening governance on global commons.

Rentier states that still rely on fossil fuel exports and do not adapt to the energy transition will risk losing their influence and facing socio-economic consequences in the transformation process. Therefore, a number of major oil-producing countries are setting targets to increase the proportion of renewables in their energy mix.

The more fossil fuels will be replaced, R&D as well as critical resources e.g. for batteries will be a key success factor in the transition process and will become a new means of dependencies between states.

The session will highlight how countries are adopting to these developments and what could be a new pattern for the world map of geopolitics.

The geopolitics of grid infrastructure

Cooperation on transnational grid infrastructure can drive the global energy transition by opening up national energy markets for the export and import of cheap electricity produced by renewables. As a result of plummeting electricity prices due to renewables, renewables themselves will become increasingly attractive for markets that are currently still dominated by conventional power generation. In addition, transnational grid infrastructure can foster regional stability while curbing current geopolitical dependencies in energy. It can help to dissolve and prevent energy isolation and asymmetric energy dependencies alike.
However, this comes with new vulnerabilities. As the energy transition promises a future free of carbon-related geopolitics, grid infrastructure is increasingly targeted by hybrid warfare interventions. Ranging from cyberattacks to complex and highly coordinated disinformation campaigns, such interventions aim to prevent any political consensus on the build-up of transnational grid infrastructure by influencing the opinion of entire populations.

Regional cooperation as a driver to the energy transition

The energy transition requires regional cooperation among EU Member States and with third countries in order to tap into the full potential of renewable energy. The North Sea Offshore Grid is one key example of a regional cooperation scheme. In 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherland, Sweden, the United-Kingdom (joined by Norway a year later) to facilitate the efficient use of renewable energy and the building of new infrastructure for a North Sea Offshore Grid.
In 2017, Morocco, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal signed a roadmap on sustainable electricity trade, in the presence of the European Commission, aimed at identifying the barriers to renewable electricity trade between the five countries across the Mediterranean Sea.
The goal of this session will be to use these two examples to explore the role of regional cooperation schemes on renewable energy in view of reaching the 2030 renewable energy target.

Official Conference Opening

This session will set the scene with the official opening of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2020 by the German Federal Government. Following the ministerial speeches, three young climate activists from around the world will present their views of the global climate crisis, and the President of the European Commission will present the European Green Deal. IEA and IRENA will then provide an outlook towards 2050.