Energy Transition: Expansion and Integration of Renewable Energy Sources

Berlin and Greifswald | Germany

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The 9th International Summer Academy ‘Energy and the Environment’ took place in Greifswald and Berlin from 21 to 28 July 2012. The topic of the conference was Energy Transition: Expansion and Integration of Renewable Energy Sources’. Participants from all over the world gathered in the charming coastal town of Greifswald on Saturday the 21st. The Academy was hosted here for the weekend at the historical campus and conference rooms of its original academic home base: the University of Greifswald. Sunday started with an introductory workshop. In the light of Germany’s radical move away from nuclear, the Academy arranged an afternoon visit to the nuclear reactor Lubmin, before closure the largest nuclear plant in East Germany.  On Monday the 23rd the Academy moved to Berlin, where a comprehensive 5-day program of seminars and lectures was organized. In the heart of the Berlin, participants accumulated and exchanged knowledge on the multiple interdisciplinary challenges surrounding renewable energy integration in the comfort of IKEM’s conference facilities.

Monday – 23 July
World energy consumption:
Underlying causes, future trends and case studies

The world’s energy landscape is changing dramatically. Resources are becoming increasingly scarce, while industrialisation and modernisation are causing energy consumption in developing countries to grow. Energy supply and energy demand are moving in opposite directions in the constraining context of climate change and a weak financial world market. The aim of today’s program is to come to a full understanding of the current state of the energy sector, and the political and economic considerations that shape it.

Tuesday– 24 July
Legal and policy framework:
Sustainable energy and climate protection

The day will start with an overview of the climate and energy policy framework currently in place on an international level. The Kyoto Protocol’s actual effect on the energy sector will be examined, and its likely predecessor will be presented. Prickly issues of potential trade distortion will also be discussed. The conference’s scope will then narrow down from international to regional, with an overview of the EU’s energy strategy and target, and the instruments it employs along the way. An overview of the most-often used legal promotional instruments will be given, with recommendations as to what is best suited to which national context, and why. It is striking that the EU’s 2 largest economies, France and Germany, are now pursuing very different strategies with regard to nuclear energy. The reasons behind these diverging policies will be discussed, followed by policy lessons from the development and regression of the solar sector in Germany.

Wednesday– 25 July
RES integration:
Practical potential of new technologies

Wednesday is dedicated to new energy technologies, and to existing technologies that have not yet reached their full potential. Energy efficiency is one such technology and the day will start with this topic. The bulk of the energy consumed in today’s society generally still comes from large-scale power plants. These need no longer follow the traditional polluting model generally associated with the term: New, cleaner versions are already operational and will play a big role in the energy transition. Combined heat and power, hybrid and virtual plants will therefore be examined too, as well as maritime energy options like tidal power.
Electric cars have many obstacles to overcome, from range concerns to doubts about their efficiency in reducing CO2 emissions. A case study by Better Place will shed more light on this issue, after which the conference will address the important role of energy storage (power-to-gas) in the integration process of RES. Finally, a group discussion will shed light on the practical reality of RES integration and the different approaches each country takes to foster it.

Thursday– 26 July
Network challenges of RES integration:
Grid expansion, stabilization and upgrades
Thursday focuses on the topic of energy grids, covering exciting new grid technologies such as the smart grid and the super grid. The major challenges, however, lie within our existing energy network: Further integration of RES is not possible without an expansion and reinforcement of current infrastructure. What’s more, grid expansion often faces resistance of the population of the area through which the network runs, adding additional financial strain on an already expensive and time-consuming operation. Today will examine the current state and shortcoming of the energy network and address the legal, technological and economic aspects of possible solutions.

Friday – 27 July
Generation, Storage and Integration:
Renewable Energy Sources in the Baltic Sea Region

The last day of the Summer Academy will be marked by a public conference hosted by IKEM and Becker Büttner Held. Large players in regional policy-making and the energy industry will join the Academy at this occasion. The knowledge acquired during the week will be put to practice in the context of the Baltic Sea. The region is a rich mix of political and economic history, culture, natural resources and of course, energy policy. Starting with a deeper understanding of the political and historical forces that shaped the region’s energy landscape, the conference will zoom in on the challenges faced by the region’s most promising RES: Offshore wind. A contrasting regulatory environment to the Baltic will be analyzed in a case study on Navitus Bay in the English Channel. The day will end with an inspiring cross-border network case study and storage solutions to intermittency. Lessons learned from the Baltic Sea region have a global applicability, and participants are encouraged to use the final panel discussion round to get to most out of the convergence of expertise this day.