Building energy connections

The abundant energy resource unlocked by the unconventional energy revolution has compelled many countries to reassess their energy policies, said Minister S Iswaran (right).

Big changes afoot in today’s energy landscape present many challenges and opportunities. This was the key message that set the tone for EMA’s 7th Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) in October.

Embracing those changes, said Mr S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry, during his Opening Remarks, means diversifying energy sources and enhancing access to secure and cost-competitive energy supply.

For Singapore, these range from expanding the city-state’s LNG infrastructure to assessing the technical viability of cross-border power trade between neighbouring countries, he said. “Integration of energy networks holds the potential to positively shape our energy future and the global quest for sustainability.”

Singapore is not alone in facing these changes that are part of larger transformations in the global energy landscape.

Growing energy demand, climate change and the management of emerging generation technologies have become pressing matters, said Dr Leonhard Birnbaum, Chairman of E.ON Global Commodities’ Supervisory Board.

“We have to navigate the energy transitions no matter where we are. Countries must build smarter energy systems, supply chains and partnerships to prepare for the future.” he added.

Dr Leonhard Birnbaum, in his keynote, spoke about navigating global energy transitions.

Collaboration and connections are vital for countries to tackle energy challenges that range from dwindling fossil fuels to infrastructure issues, said IEA Chief Maria van der Hoeven.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Dr Ahmad Belhoul, Masdar’s CEO, said the rise of renewables is part of those major changes. The shifts in our energy system promised by renewables must be embraced, he said, adding that conventional generators of electricity and energy planners must rethink their roles to remain relevant. “Renewables are here to stay.”

Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), also pointed to the importance of energy connectivity. She highlighted the increasing significance of gas in Asia and said that creating efficient gas markets is critical to effectively manage demand and supply.

Engagement on regional and global scales will not happen overnight and will demand difficult infrastructure, market and political decisions, she said. “Working together will be the key to forming a transparent electricity market,” she told industry leaders and government officials at SIEW.

The IEA Chief added that optimising the use of energy resources in the 21st century requires “continued focus on building connections – connections in terms of building infrastructure, markets and policy”.

SIEW 2014 highlights

Internationally-renowned futurist and business strategist, Peter Schwartz, kicked off the youth dialogue with a look at upcoming advancements and the hottest term in the energy sector.

More than 10,000 industry leaders, governments and academics from over 60 countries convened at SIEW starting 27 October 2014. Headlining the Singapore Energy Summit’s discussions were 25 high-level speakers.

The week-long event also featured over 20 partner conferences and exhibitions, roundtable discussions, and associated events. These included the Asian Energy Financial and Investment Conference, Downstream & Petrochemical Asia, Gas Asia Summit, European Union Business Avenues Clean Technologies Exhibition, the RE@SIEW Exhibition and Asia Clean Energy Summit.

Of particular significance was the In Dialogue with Youth session, affirming Minister S Iswaran’s emphasis on attracting youths to the energy sector in his Opening Remarks. The session was headed by the Minister, who was joined by Peter Schwartz, a noted futurist and Senior Vice President at Salesforce.com.

Over 250 students attended the session to discuss the future of energy. The focus was on Singapore’s energy situation, its lack of domestic resources, and the need for affordable and environmentally-sustainable power.