Under the auspices of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and president of Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, the ECSSR 18th Annual Energy Conference was held for two days, which successfully ended on Wednesday (Nov. 13).
Titled “Technology and the Future of Energy,” the two-day conference is part of the UAE's efforts to discuss issues related to energy security and its future in a comprehensive manner and the steps it has taken to secure sustainable supplies.
A review of the status of global energy markets, particularly the demand-supply dynamic, was understandably the starting point for the first session of the conference. The session sought to pave the way for experts, researchers and academicians to draw a clear picture of the current international energy landscape, international investment trends in energy-related technology and the role technology plays in maintaining energy security.
This led to discussions in the second session on technological advancement in energy sector across the globe and the challenges and opportunities facing future expansion.
The third session discussed technological challenges and opportunities in the energy-intensive sectors such as power generation, construction and transport, considering the fact that controlled energy consumption in these sectors is highly crucial for global energy security.
The concluding panel focused on technological advancements in energy sector of the Gulf countries in view of the pivotal role the region plays on the global energy map. This region's preeminent position is because of the abundant reserves of conventional energy and resources as well as its utilization of new and renewable energy.
The first day of the conference addressed the role of technology in the global energy system. It examined the dynamics of changes in global energy supply and demand, as well as investment trends in energy technology. It also investigated the impact of technological development on energy self-reliance among countries and regions, after which the focus shifted to prevailing trends in the development of energy technologies and their associated impacts on various aspects of the oil and gas, nuclear, and renewable energy sectors.
On the second day of the conference, discussions were held on technological challenges and opportunities in energy-intensive sectors, reviewing potential applications for emerging technologies and their projected costs in the areas of power generation, construction and housing, transport and communication, and manufacturing and industry. It then assessed the potential implications of new technologies for the oil-producing countries of the Arabian Gulf, providing in-depth analysis of political, social, economic, financial and environmental considerations.
ECSSR organizes energy conference every year and has chosen to focus on energy technology this year. This shows the center's awareness of the rapid technological advancements that have become a feature of the changing global landscape in this sector.
It realizes that modern technology applications have become the driving force of advancement in various economic sectors, including energy.
The conference identified prevailing trends in the development of energy technologies with the aim of charting their potential role in shaping the future of world energy demand and supply. It also evaluated the impact of technology on the future of energy in the Gulf region specifically and the global energy sector as a whole.
The conference provided a strategic outlook for technological development in the energy industry, based on analysis of global energy supply and demand, current and future investment trends in energy technology, the potential impact of technological advances in the oil and gas industry, and the viability of renewable energy technologies. The conference also discussed technological challenges and opportunities in energy-intensive sectors in the oil-producing countries of the Gulf, and their associated economic, political and social implications.
The conference participants comprised a broad selection of decision-makers, industry experts, academics and researchers, and the papers presented during the proceedings will be published in book form and made available to interested readers and researchers in both Arabic and English following the event.
PANEL 1: Technology and the Global Energy System
Challenges in Global Energy Supply and Demand
In his paper, Professor Ken Koyama, chief economist and managing director of the Institute of Energy Economics (IEEJ), Japan, discussed challenges in global energy supply and demand. Global energy demand is expected to continue to rise in the long term, backed by economic and population growth. While demand growth in OECD countries will be stagnant or may even decline due to lower economic growth and energy efficiency gains, he said. Energy demand in China, India and other Asian developing countries, as well as in the Middle East, will grow substantially over the coming decades, Koyama added.
Fossil fuels will witness the largest growth. It is expected that renewable energy including PV and wind power will develop rapidly thanks to policy support and falling costs. Nuclear energy is also expected to increase globally, even after the Fukushima accident, with growth being highest in emerging markets-mainly China and India. However, fossil fuels will continue to be dominant energy sources in the global energy portfolio for the foreseeable future, backed by such advantages as economic changes in global energy supply and demand competitiveness, affordability, and resource abundance.
On the supply side, according to Koyama, developments such as the evolution of US shale gas and its implications for world energy markets and the geo-politics of energy, or the impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident on world nuclear policies and energy portfolios, will also affect the global energy landscape. Geo-political tensions and their impacts in the Middle East, including issues related to the Arab Spring, should also be considered as an important factor influencing the global energy market.
Investment Trends in Energy Technology
The International Energy Agency's (lEA) latest World Energy Outlook (WEO) projects a need for $ 38 trillion of investment in the energy sector between 2011 and 2035, predicated on a set of assumptions about prices, economic growth, demographics and the implementation of announced energy and climate policies, Robert G. Skinner, president of Kimacal Energy Strategies, Ltd., Canada, said in his paper.
PANEL II: Prospects for technological advancement in the energy sector
The impact of technological innovation on the oil and gas industry
In his paper, entitled "The impact of technological innovation on the oil and gas industry," Erdal Ozkan, professor of petroleum engineering, co-director of Marathon Center of Excellence for Reservoir Studies at Colorado School of Mines, stated that by far, the most significant development in the area of fossil energy in the last few decades has been the proven economic success of production from ultra-tight source rocks.
The paper discussed the impact of technological innovations leading to the development of unconventional oil and natural gas resources and their implications for meeting the present and future energy demand of the world.
PANEL III: Technological Challenges and Opportunities in Energy-Intensive Sectors
Power Generation Sector
A major ongoing challenge in power generation is the ability to match total power demand to total generation in a reliable and efficient way. According to Essam Abdulaziz Al-Ammar, associate professor at Department of Electrical Engineering at College of Engineering, King Saud University, two other challenges are ever-increasing demand for power and the effect of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on the future of our planet. It has been reported that for many developing countries demand will almost double in the next 20 years. Therefore, to achieve balance and reduce GHG emissions, it is necessary to think "outside of the box" (or perhaps "out of the barrel").
Construction and Housing Sector
Professor Khaled Abdullah Al-Sallal said in his paper that the built environment has been reported to account for 48 percent of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and 30-40 percent of total carbon emissions in the UK. The construction sector in India emits about 22 percent of the total annual C02 emissions from the Indian economy. The professor of sustainable design/building technology, Department of Architecural Engineering at School of Engineering, based in the UAE, added that buildings also contribute indirectly to greenhouse gas emissions. The production of construction materials is primarily dependent on conventional energy sources in many parts of the world. Of the total emissions from the construction sector, around 80 percent are produced by the products/industrial processes of energy-intensive building materials (i.e. cement. lime, steel. bricks and aluminum.)
PANEL IV: Development of Energy Technologies and their Impact on the Oil-Producing Countries of the Arabian Gulf
Political and Social Implications of Technological Innovation in the Energy Industry
Since the early 1980s, energy consumption has grown faster in the Arab region than in any other region of the world, reflecting a proliferation of energy-intensive industries, and a growing demand for electricity and transport among burgeoning populations, Najib Saab indicated.
In meeting the region's growing demand for energy the focus must be on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Arab countries have great renewable energy potential, mainly in the area of solar and wind power, but also via hydro and geothermal sources in specific locations, all of which are underutilized, according to Secretary General of Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED).
For Arab oil-importing countries, a shift to green energy sources, coupled with improved energy efficiency, would help to foster much-needed energy security and economic sustainability, and could also contribute to providing improved energy services for the rural poor, thereby alleviating poverty, improving environmental quality and mitigating climate change, Saab said.
Economic and Financial Impacts of Evolving Energy Technologies
Ray Leonard, president and CEO at Hyperdynamics Corporation Oil, USA, discussed in his paper the economic and financial impacts of evolving energy technologies. Production in the 20th century was dominated by conventional production. This was categorized as oil produced as the primary product of onshore or offshore operations in depths of less than 400 meters, from permeable reservoirs and of a gravity lighter than 15 API. In the year 2000, 86 percent of the world's oil production fell into the category of conventional oil. By the year 2030, that proportion will have dropped to about 58 percent, with production of deep-water, heavy oil/bitumen, shale oil and natural gas liquids (NGL's) increasing at a rate of 4 percent per year during this period to 37 million barrels of oil per day (mbpd), Leonard added.
The three factors driving this shift are the decline in conventional oil production, the development of new technologies allowing production in deep-water and in reservoirs previously thought to be unproductive, and the new oil price levels, allowing these new technologies to be profitable for production on a large scale, he said.