KIREC Daily Bulletin: The Power of Cooperation

KIREC’s third day of activities brought active and fruitful discussions among the world’s energy players, as they shared their experiences of successes and challenges in pursuing the energy transition.

Participants continued to meet and discuss through the fifteen parallel sessions that unfolded across the day.

The Policy and Market Design track looked at a range of policy issues spanning the three energy sectors: power, transport, heating and cooling. While it’s clear that renewables are key to decarbonizing the transport sector, we need to prioritise strategic and holistic approaches, focusing on finding appropriate solutions for different types of transports. Other policy discussions focused on the role of governments in ensuring that the energy transition in heating and cooling does not only benefit the wealthier classes. Social acceptance can be the biggest barrier in the effectiveness of a particular policy. Thus addressing the need to shift to renewable energy while providing the right information to consumers is also important.

Various sessions on the Cities track, tackled how to raise awareness on climate change urgency at a national and local level. Other discussion looked at how to provide individuals with fact-based evidence and how to prevent prejudice that hinders public acceptance of renewable energy. Discussants emphasized that moving from citizens’ general willingness to actual participation and engagement is crucial to increasing renewable energy uptake. And, while technology is becoming more affordable and advanced, a partnership between the community, business and local government is fundamental to transitioning energy systems and building smart cities infrastructure.


In the energy transition, strong market design is needed to enable advanced technologies, pointed out panelists at Finance, Technology & Industrialization sessions. Panelists outlined three types of barriers in pursuing the energy transition, including traditional sectoral issues such as market fragmentation, barriers to new approaches within a sector such as grid planning and cross-sectoral barriers that could occur between heating and electricity or transport and electricity. Enabling technologies needs very different regulatory policies to be effective, with alignment between political will, business strategy and the market.


The innovation track looked at digitalization, minigrids and renewables-based hydrogen. Digitalisation can significantly change who does what and has the potential to cause massive disruption in the energy sector in both countries with established power markets as well as developing countries.


Sessions around the socio-economic benefits of renewables i.e. employment, trade and democratization of the energy system highlighted how bringing renewable energy into communities can create jobs and help meet key human needs such as access to clean cooking. Panelists called on the need to build much better data to enable policy actors to make better decisions for systemic change. Making community energy a reality is about encouraging local ownership and sharing benefits, they noted.


“Shipping is next to aviation is a huge area where the movement away from polluting fossil fuels towards renewable energy is still in its infancy. There are a variety of technical concepts on the market which can shift the focus to hybrid solutions with wind energy for direct propulsion and engines running on renewable fuels. The Korean shipbuilding industry as one of the world leaders will have to play a key role in this transformation.” Gavin Albright, International Windship Association


Renewables in Cities: High-level panel

This panel saw mayors, national and sub-national level decision makers, national energy and scientific agencies and city networks discussing the role of vertical integration. Titled “Driving Renewable Energy Jointly,” this event brought together representatives from South Korea, India, Argentina, Latvia, Australia and Denmark and those from ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and the Korean Society for Atmospheric Environment and REN21.


Seo Wang-jin, President of the Seoul Institute at the Seoul Metropolitan Government, opened the session with a passionate speech addressing the urgency to address the climate change issue and pursue energy transition. Yeom Tae-young, Mayor of Suwon in South Korea, highlighted the importance of cooperation between the central and local governments. Nanda Jichkar, Mayor of Nagpur in India noted that collaborations with organizations such as the EU, UN and ICLEI are important when implementing projects such as the ‘urban LEDs’ and ‘Smart Cities’ projects.”


Sebastian Kind, Undersecretary of Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency, at Argentina’s Ministry of Treasury, Ralfs Nemiro, Minister of Economics of the Republic of Latvia and Stig Uffe Pedersen, Deputy Director General with Danish Energy Agency, introduced how their countries are utilizing renewable energy, with each noting the potential of renewables in the energy transition.


Maryke van Staden, Manager of ICLEI said, “Cooperation and coordination between all levels of government is key to driving the transition. Governments have the vital role of co-designing policies to enable the action that we need.” She especially noted the need for local governments to better report to the central government to facilitate such cooperation.


Young Sun-woo, Korean Society for Atmospheric Environment, stated that when working with political entities that instead of NIMBY (not in my backyard) the term more often associated with their lack (or lack thereof ) is NIMTY: “not in my term” to denote the fickle nature of decision makers. He also noted the difficulties in convincing the governments of the urgency of issues when they lack short-term outcomes.


Rana Adib, Executive Secretary of REN21 wrapped up the session with closing remarks. “The renewable energy transition means decentralization,” she said, noting cities are a central actor in the energy transition. “Citizen ownership is the key and is at the center of discussion. Citizens are actors but there are other drivers such as jobs or social inclusion and communication that are also key.