A power generation system that supplies energy to every single citizen in Europe was the biggest energy challenge of the 20th century, and we have greatly achieved it. Today, Europe’s energy supply system needs its next generation of power plants. Compared to last century, the prerequisites for power supply have become manifold and complex. Accounting for the aspects of supply security, limited oil and gas resources, economic feasibility and climate protection, we have to see modern power generation in the light of a fully restructured energy supply model. It is in our hands to develop an intelligent system of energy supply that meets the demands of modern times. That said, we face the greatest engineering challenge of the 21st century.
Which approach is the most suitable for tackling this tough challenge? Business as usual, i.e. a blend of coal, gas and nuclear power decorated with a renewable energy “add-on” is not the answer to the challenge of climate change. Renewable energy supply, on the other hand, is not yet commercially viable in order to act as a substitute for fossil and nuclear fuels. e-turn 21 aims to identify a third way that bridges the business as usual scenario with the dream of a solar age. Power generation based on renewable energy is the long-term vision. For the time being, yet, e-turn 21 acknowledges the economic necessity of coal, lignite and natural gas power generation. At issue is the most efficient, low- or non-carbon use of fossil fuel sources that gives way to renewable energy sources – gradually, but steadily.
Going a third way involves a paradigm shift in common energy supply approaches: it brings actors together instead of drawing lines.
Thinking on a grand scale
What is the common perspective that unites plant constructors, energy suppliers, distributors, policy-makers, investors and the people facing the challenge of a new energy supply generation? Bundling forces and crafting a third energy path inheres a major spin-off potential. We have the chance to produce cutting-edge technology and achieve pioneer success that we can capitalise on. But the development of new approaches needs openness and willingness to think on a grand scale. The Americans put the first man on the Moon because they thought on a grand scale. If Europe is to lead the way in global markets we must act now and create the framework for the people who wish to put our visions to reality.
Europe still lacks a true debate about the common future fuel portfolio and a suitable energy policy framework. The energy challenge provides no easy answer. It will take straightforward, honest discussion. e-turn 21 strives to be a platform representing the views and concerns of all stakeholders involved – even the most provocative ones. Industry, policy-makers, investors, the science community and the public are all invited to unite behind a specific technological challenge and start a dialogue on how to achieve an energy system that is economically feasible, climate-friendly, reliable and secure. e-turn 21 seeks to incorporate challenging and progressive positions from sectors that traditionally are not represented in energy debates.
Most stakeholders will have difficulty to retrieve all dimensions of the energy challenge, given the interaction of economics, politics and technology aspects. To this regard, the broad-based discussion forum of e-turn 21 can mobilise forces and transmit information while creating problem awareness.
The e-turn 21 approach seeks to accommodate the interest of all actors involved – plant constructors, energy suppliers and distributors as well as investors, policy-makers and the public. Instead of highlighting risk and short-term discomfort, e-turn 21 focuses on the chances that will arise when deciding to explore a new energy supply system. The commitment in favour of a third way reaches far and demands a “learning attitude” from any stakeholder; i.e., go beyond immediate needs and foresee requirements in anticipation of deployment.
- Plant constructors have exploited the fossil fuel market in the EU, while the emerging economies in Asia have the know-how to establish their own plants. Low-carbon and green technologies open long-lasting business opportunities.
- Energy suppliers can carry on with business as usual for decades, as long as coal and gas remain the most competitive power source. Yet, e-turn invites them to think on a grand scale and view today’s strategy from a “beyond 2050”-perspective. Is it not all about looking to the future but acting now?
- Power distributors face the question how the traditional base, medium and high load concept can be overhauled most cost-effectively. The concept has not been tailored for renewable energy sources, but their share is growing.
- Investors take a strong interest in scenarios providing a reliable, far-reaching and long-term perspective on technological progress, policy frameworks and market demands. The e-turn 21 forum provides a suitable ground for the development of sound investment and finance strategies.
- Policy-makers at national and EU levels set the framework for the development of cutting-edge technologies and concepts. They are responsible for tapping potentials, shifting R&Ds resources, providing incentives and rewarding pioneer achievements. Europe has the opportunity to take global leadership and capitalise on its overhauled energy supply concept. The success hinges upon the political course that is set today. e-turn 21 seeks to help EU decision-makers elaborate a EU strategy that is backed by all relevant actors.
- The public needs a clear picture of the various dimensions associated with energy supply – in terms of supply security and climate change as well as wealth and comfort of living in the EU. While consumer information is vital, e-turn puts a focus on raising awareness among young people.
- International Conference „European Energy Choices: Options for a European Energy and Climate-Protection Policy„
in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation
Berlin, 21/22. February 2007, Berlin
- International Conference Series „The Challenges, Perspectives and Obstacles of the European Energy Sector with regard to a Sustainable Energy Path: Creating a Compromise among European Energy Actors“
in Cologne, Brno, Madrid, Brussels, 2006
- Workshop „Next power plant generation – Where we are, where we go“
in cooperation with the European Climate Forum (ECF)
CEP Berlin, 26 January 2005