Trilateral Meeting Discussed Energy Transition and Energy Innovation

PeopleOther ♦ Published: May 3, 2023; 22:41 ♦ (Vindobona)

A trilateral conference was held at the Technical University of Vienna, where Italian, French, and Austrian energy actors discussed the topics of energy innovation and the energy transition. The discussion panels included topics such as the role of gas and nuclear power in European decarbonization, the importance of renewable energy sources, and the potential of solar energy in Europe.

The conference was held at the TU Plus Energy Office Tower, a unique building on the Getreidemarkt in Vienna that is an example of the future of construction and sustainable renovation of office buildings. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons, Dawid Michulec, CC BY 4.0

The French Ambassador to Austria, Gilles Pécout, opened the conference and stressed the importance of decarbonization as a political goal for Europe. A main topic of discussion was the role of gas and nuclear power in European decarbonization. While Federico Rocchi, Director of the Department of Nuclear Safety Technology and Fusion, ENEA, proposed the establishment of small nuclear reactors accompanied by safety measures as a solution, Thomas Bednar, Professor of the Vienna University of Technology and Director of the Institute of Materials Technology, Building Physics, and Building Ecology, stressed the importance of renewable energies. César Mugerin, technology, and innovation advisor at ENGIE France, highlighted that major changes in energy autonomy and interconnection of international grids are needed to achieve European energy goals by 2030.

These discussions are of great importance since 80% of our energy is still produced from fossil sources. A rapid shift to renewable energy is necessary to combat climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But against this backdrop, what role can energy players play?

One way is to invest in renewables and develop energy efficiency technologies. The energy transition must be achieved not only by expanding renewable energy sources but also by increasing energy efficiency. The use of energy efficiency technologies in buildings and industry can significantly reduce energy consumption and help reduce CO2 emissions. Here, energy actors can play an important role by investing in research and development as well as in the implementation of these technologies.

Another important topic is the role of nuclear power in the energy transition. While some experts believe that nuclear power can play an important role in meeting energy needs, there are also concerns about the safety and long-term disposal of radioactive waste. It is important that these issues are considered in the discussion and that energy actors use nuclear power responsibly.

Last but not least, the Ukraine war also plays a role in the discussion about the energy transition. Ukraine is an important transit country for gas supplies to Europe. The war and political tensions may jeopardize the supply of gas, which highlights Europe's dependence on Russia as an energy supplier. The energy transition is therefore also of great importance from a geopolitical perspective.

Overall, the discussion about the energy transition is of great importance for the future of Europe. The closing words of the round table by Agnès Chanut, president of Le Cercle, were followed by three discussion workshops.

Discussion on the role of gas, nuclear power and renewables

The discussion workshops provided a platform for participants to discuss concrete measures and ideas for promoting the energy transition. In the workshop "The Role of nuclear power in the energy transition," various opinions were exchanged on the use of nuclear energy. Some participants emphasized the potential risks of nuclear power and argued for phasing out this energy source. Others considered nuclear energy an important bridging technology to support the transition to renewable energy.

In the workshop "The Art of Energy Innovation the Austrian Way," innovative approaches to energy storage and energy efficiency were discussed. Participants agreed that increasing the use of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency are crucial for a successful energy transition. They also emphasized the importance of research and development to develop new technologies that can improve energy efficiency and facilitate the use of renewable energy.

The workshop "Solar Energy in Europe, Potentials and Barriers" discussed the challenges of expanding solar energy in Europe. These include the difficulty of finding suitable sites to build solar plants and the need to modernize electricity grids to enable the deployment of solar energy. Participants agreed that increased cooperation among European countries is needed to address these challenges.

Overall, the trilateral meeting at TU Vienna was an important step towards a successful energy transition in Europe. The discussions and workshops provided an opportunity for participants to share their views and ideas and discuss concrete measures to promote the energy transition. It is hoped that these discussions will lead to concrete measures to reduce the share of fossil fuels in energy production and put Europe on a sustainable energy course.

French Embassy Vienna

TU Vienna