Ships sailing into the port of Rotterdam in February 2022.
Federico Gambarini | Images Alliance | fake images
Concerns related to both the energy transition and energy security have been highlighted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia is a major supplier of oil and gas, and in recent weeks several major economies have unveiled plans to reduce their dependence on its hydrocarbons.
On Friday, the US and the European Commission issued a statement on energy security in which they announced the creation of a joint working group on the subject.
The parties said the United States “will endeavor to secure” at least 15 billion cubic meters of additional volumes of liquefied natural gas for the EU this year. They added that this is expected to increase in the future.
Commenting on the deal, President Joe Biden said the US and EU will also “work together to take concrete steps to reduce reliance on natural gas, period, and maximize…the availability and use of renewable energy.” “.
All of the above speaks to the daunting task facing governments around the world who say they want to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, prevent the worst effects of climate change, while safeguarding energy security.
The challenges and opportunities facing the energy sector were addressed Monday during a panel discussion at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
During the panel, which was moderated by CNBC’s Hadley Gamble, the CEO of Italian oil and gas firm Eni tried to highlight the current tensions facing his sector.
Claudio Descalzi said that, historically, a wide variety of resources have been used. “We know very well that in the last 200 years, all the different energy vectors [have] … has been added,” he said. “So coal, more oil, more gas and more renewables.”
“We never found one source, or one energy source, that would replace everything. It’s crazy to think that there is something that can replace everything.”
Others who spoke Monday included Anna Shpitsberg, deputy assistant secretary for energy transformation at the US State Department.
Shpitsberg said that while the US-EU working group would focus on areas such as securing LNG supplies, it would also seek to provide “some certainty to US producers that they will increase supply in Europe in the long term and even 2030”. “Permits and infrastructure would also be areas of focus,” she explained.
It was also important not to compromise the energy transition, he acknowledged, before going on to refer to the argument presented by Descalzi de Eni.
“Comments that were made that we can’t trust a technology, just like we can’t trust a supply route too much, is why we’re putting so much money into hydrogen.”
Shpitsberg called hydrogen “a revolutionary technology that speaks to a variety of other sources…because it can support nuclear power, it can support gas, it can support renewables, it can clean a lot of it, and it can also CCUS [carbon capture utilization and storage].”
“So for us, it’s making sure that the market has enough signals, knows that the regulatory environment will support the signals for current energy security,” he said.
“But we’re also sending whatever resources we can toward the transition. That’s why we’re investing billions of dollars in hydrogen research and development.”
Described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier”, hydrogen has a wide range of applications and can be deployed in sectors such as industry and transportation.
It can be produced in various ways. One method includes the use of electrolysis, with an electrical current that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen.
If the electricity used in this process comes from a renewable source like wind or solar, some call it green or renewable hydrogen.
While there is excitement in some quarters about the potential of hydrogen, the vast majority of its generation is currently based on fossil fuels.
Others who spoke Monday included Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum.
Once again, Jafar defended the importance of gas in the coming years, calling it “a critical enabler of renewable energy” because it supported its intermittent supply. It was also, he claimed, “the path to future technologies like hydrogen.”
Monday’s panel caps a month in which the International Energy Agency reported that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose to their highest level in history in 2021. The IEA found that global energy-related CO2 emissions rose 6% in 2021 to reach a record 36.3 billion metric tons.
In its analysis, the world’s leading energy authority identified coal use as the main driver of growth. He said coal was responsible for more than 40% of the overall growth in global CO2 emissions last year, reaching a record 15.3 billion metric tons.
“CO2 emissions from natural gas rebounded well above their 2019 levels to 7.5 billion tonnes,” the IEA said, adding that CO2 emissions from oil reached 10.7 billion metric tonnes.