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QUO VADIS, EUROPE? SHEDDING LIGHT ON AN ENERGY POLICY BEYOND THE ELECTRICAL SECTOR REFORM
In July 2013, the Spanish government announced significant reforms in the energy sector aimed at correcting the serious economic imbalances that currently affect all facets of society, from consumers, taxpayers and investors, to operators and lenders. Unfortunately, the grave significance of these decisions – and the late date at which they were made – undermine their future success, and spark the need for a serious discussion and debate of the trade-offs and objectives of the reform.
The urgency of this reform, as well as the severity of its impact, cannot – and should not – overshadow the importance of a solid future-proof energy policy that is above all sustainable, sound, prudent, realistic and competitive in its approach.
The international energy sector will undergo a paradigm shift over the next 15 years, with the emergence of “unconventional energy” (at least in the United States and Canada); the likely gasification of the transportation sector; and the consolidation of wind and photovoltaic energies. Additional factors, such as the divergent national energy policies across the European Union; the silent advance of energy efficiency as the sixth source of fuel; a reframing of distribution networks; and the growing role of consumers in energy innovation, will also contribute to reshaping the global energy sector.
Other concerns loom on the horizon: China’s voracious appetite for energy and the potential international withdrawal of the U.S., with its energy bonanza, strategic commitment and economic motives all weighing in. These developments, taken together with Europe’s increasing dependence on foreign energy, leave the region in a vulnerable position that has both diplomatic and military ramifications. At the same time, the international community has yet to reach a consensus on climate change that fills the void left by the Kyoto Accord.
Business leaders, academics, financiers, energy policymakers and other key industry players will gather to decipher and debate the most essential elements at play in the global energy sector.