By Choo Zu Kai
We cannot put all our eggs in one basket when it comes to energy security, said Dr Sun Xian Sheng, Secretary-General of the International Energy Forum (IEF), during the closing session of SIEW Energy Insights.
Dr Sun’s comment came after earlier sessions by DNV GL and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, which respectively discussed the outlook for renewables and Germany’s ongoing transition to a low-carbon energy system.
“Hopes for renewables are too high,” he said. “While this trend towards sustainable energy cannot be changed, there is a long transition period.”
One key challenge is integrating renewables into the grid. China, the world’s biggest renewable energy producer, has to curtail 30 per cent of the renewable energy it produces as its grid cannot accommodate it.
To accelerate the deployment of renewables and find the solutions needed, collaboration between governments, industry and think tanks must be stronger, said Dr Sun.
Political will is especially important, he added. If the US re-joins the Paris Agreement, its influence and technological and economic strength would add momentum to the advancement of renewables.
More importantly, said Dr Sun, fossil fuels cannot be forgotten as they remain critical in the long term. By the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) projections, oil, gas and coal still combine for between 57 and 79 per cent of the world’s primary energy mix in 2040.
The core issues therefore are reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels and ensuring sufficient supply to meet global energy needs.
In particular, the sustained decline in upstream oil and gas investment is a concern, said Dr Sun. Investment is needed just to maintain current production levels. Without this and further investment in additional production capacity, supply could be in shortfall in as soon as three to four years – leading to price surges.