Thursday, 6 February 2014

Future Energy Supplies for Europe

Energy is vital to our modern society. But where will our future energy supplies be sourced? How do we ensure an adequate energy supply while protecting our environment? And where do the chemical sciences fit into all this? These questions were the subject of a Café Chimique event organised by RSC Belgium on 28 January.

The event took place in the very convivial atmosphere of the Salle des FĂȘtes in Auderghem Cultural Centre. There an audience of well over 50 RSC members, friends and members of the public listened to short presentations from our panel of four speakers to help the audience understand the issues, possibilities and policy pros and cons.

Energy spread
Our debate speakers represented a wide range of energy perspectives. You can access a short biography for each of our speakers here.

Our first speaker was Peter Botschek (above), Head of Energy at Cefic - the European Chemical Industry body. Peter gave an overview of the energy scene in Europe and its evolution and possible impact on the chemical sector. You can find his presentation here.

Philippe Charlez (above), Unconventional Resources Development Director, from French oil and gas giant Total is an expert in hydraulic fracturing and was able to give an insight on the techniques used to liberate shale gas and oil. His presentation is here.

Jan Duerinck (above) from the Belgian Flemish research organisation VITO is an economist and expert on renewable energy technologies specializing in the development of techno-economic energy–environmental models. He was co-author of the study “Towards 100% renewable energy in Belgium by 2050” published in 2012 that was commissioned by the four Belgian ministers in charge of energy. His slides can be found here.

Finally Richard Ivens (above), Institutional Affairs Director at Foratom – the European Nuclear industry body - talked about the current status of the nuclear energy sector with a special focus on post Fukushima developments. Richard's presentation is here.

High level of debate
Following a short pause to refresh our glasses we launched into an audience-led debate on the future of our energy supplies expertly marshalled by our chairman Bob Crichton.

The questions from the audience were varied ranging from the environmental and economic issues of 'fracking' to the viability nuclear and some renewable technologies to achieve a truly low-carbon energy system.

The mix of technical, economic and political issues raised during the hour-long session kept our panel on their toes and they clearly enjoyed the debate. Commenting afterwards Philippe Charlez said: "It was really a pleasure to participate in this Cafe Chimique. I was impressed by the level of the debate and the quality of the questions."

The issue of how our future energy supplies will be provided is clearly very complex. But following the debate on 28 January  RSC Belgium members and friends now have some valuable insights on the varied challenges and problems that need to be overcome to ensure we 'keep the lights on' across Europe!

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