As climate change steadily progresses, governments around the world are committing to ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gases and develop renewable energy sources. The German Energiewende, China’s record-breaking investments in renewable energy, the tripling of wind power capacity in the US: the energy transition seems well on its way. At the same time, new market forces have emerged: the economic downturn of the past years has slowed overall investments and dampened public support for renewable energy subsidies. The exploitation of shale gas has resulted in a cheap and plentiful energy supply, reducing the urgency and incentive to develop renewable energy sources. Industrial development has helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty but is also responsible for an unprecedented spike in CO2 emissions. And even in Germany, land of the energy transition, coal consumption has reached an all-time high. In this volatile energy landscape, has the energy transition lost momentum? What challenges and achievements have emerged in the context of renewable energy deployment? How can variable renewable energy be integrated into electricity markets whose traditional structure accommodates stable, conventional energy sources?
IKEM Academy 2014: Energy and the Environment reviewed the state of climate change and international policy and provided an analysis of (the underlying drivers of) the global energy landscape.
A review of the past three years of the German Energiewende formed the basis for an analysis of global renewable energy development and the obstacles to continued deployment and integration. The liberalisation and internationalisation of electricity markets, and the ways in which their capacity for renewable energy can be enhanced, were next on the agenda.
On the Academy’s final day, participants discussed the case of offshore wind energy. The effective development of this energy source will require international cooperation, infrastructure investments like cross-border grid connections, financial incentives, and more. These were the topics of the seminar that concluded IKEM Academy 2014.