Midterm conference in Stavanger
Several high-level speakers elaborated on some of the key developments, challenges and shared opportunities, of a more secure, clean and efficient energy system, at the ENSEA mid-term conference held in Stavanger, Norway, on 15th May. Energy specialists attending, ranging from the public, private and academic sectors, joined in the discussion and debate around key areas for Energy Systems Integration developments in and around the North Sea.
The conference was kicked-off by Marit Boyesen (Rector of the University of Stavanger), and Terje Helland, (Deputy Mayor of the Rogaland County Council). The first speaker of the conference, Mr. Ernst Reichstein (Chief technical supervisor, Vattenfall) gave an illuminating overview on the potential development and challenges of a sustainable energy system, with more room for decentralised production and new roles for existing businesses.
Balance intermittent resources
The key message put forward implicated an energy system consisting of a multitude of resources with an increasing amount of renewables and a more prominent role of small- and medium sized enterprises. To accommodate this transition, multiple storage technologies and complex software systems are required to balance the increasing amount of intermittent resources. This message corresponds with ENSEA’s vision of energy systems integration; a holistic view of the energy system describing the optimisation of the design and performance of the supply of all forms of energy, at every scale, taking into account inter-related aspects including; economic and regulatory mechanisms, social and legal factors, and ICT and data management systems.
Following a presentation about the German “Energiewende” (Energy Transition), the status of the ENSEA project and its findings, so far, were presented. The first phase of the project focused on analysis of innovation capacity, and potential opportunities for the ENSEA regions. Highlighting, amongst other aspects, that: energy activity and related innovations are growing and shifting towards the coastal regions; that there is a challenge in linking academic research to business activity; and that there is a current lack of communication and coordination between the traditional fossil fuel-based companies, and the companies producing energy from renewable sources. In this respect, the characteristics and strengths of the collaborating regions involved in ENSEA were emphasised and opportunities for synergetic cooperation explained.
Kristen Gulbrandsen Frøysen (Director of NORCOWE) followed the ENSEA overview, by describing a case study on the offshore wind cluster initiative. Subsequently, Gaute Tjørhom spoke about Norway as the green battery of Europe and Astri Jӕger Sweetman Kvassnes provided some insight into the crucial role of CO₂ storage for a future European energy system.
To build upon the strengths and opportunities identified within ENSEA’s regions, and take critical steps towards a more integrated sustainable energy system in the future around the North Sea, the ENSEA consortium developed a series of Regional, and an Inter-regional, Joint Action Plan. These plans provide a framework for collaboration with community, industry, public sector and research / knowledge-based institutions. The Inter-regional Joint Action Plan was partly compiled using, as a basis, a portfolio consisting of 160 areas for action and project ideas derived from the different region’s action plans. This portfolio for joint action was distilled into a number of ‘lighthouse’ themes (technical and enabling), which were a prime focus for panel discussion and stakeholder debate, for the mid-term conference.
The technical lighthouse themes consist of:
- Green decommissioning,
- Optimal hydro storage integration in the North Sea energy system,
- The North Sea Power Ring: balancing the grid through different storage options, and
- Energy system integration modelling, governance and planning.
The enabling themes consist of:
- Sustainable Communities with Smart energy systems
- Educational Collaboration and training around the North Sea
- SMEs and Energy Systems Integration Innovation
- Energy cluster development
Varied, positive, encouraging and enthusiastic debate, during panel discussion on reactions to ENSEA’s ideas and key themes, highlighted areas of consensus, such as; the importance of involving the private sector at early stages, especially large industry for the lighthouse themes, and SMEs for the enabling themes. The increasing importance of the social factors of engagement and involvement, was emphasised as warranting focus, as a starting point, for some projects. The excellent conference feedback provided, will be incorporated into the ongoing process for developing the lighthouse themes and prioritising focus and activities.