Global Energy experts discuss the future of energy at the 2021 Russian Energy Week Forum
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Last Friday, the Russian Energy Week drew to a close. A total of 2,500 participants from 80 countries attended. Thirty-two sessions took place – experts from the Global Energy Association took part in one in eight of the sessions.

A focal point of the week was the award ceremony for the prize of the same name.

    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak presented the awards to the 2020 and 2021 laureates — Nikolaos Hatziargyriou (Greece), Zinfer Ismagilov Russia), Yi Cui (United States), Suleyman Allakhverdiev (Russia). Also taking part in the ceremony was the general director of the Rosseti grid, Andrey Ryumin.

    During the gala event, Association President Sergey Brilev announced the publication of a joint report by Global Energy and the Eurasian Development Bank to be devoted to the development of clean technologies for the sustainable future of Eurasia.

    One of the sessions held in the framework of the event was entitled “Small-scale nuclear power, providing energy for regions and industry” moderated by Global Energy Association President Sergey Brilev. The main theme under discussion was the consequences of the energy transition for consumers and suppliers of energy.

    “Careful account must be taken and not just of CO2 emissions. There must also be a systemic assessment of different energy sources, an understanding of the conditions in which they can operate and what their long-term prospects are,” Sergei Likhachev, Director General of Rosatom, Russia’s state corporation for nuclear energy, told the session. “And the main thing is the extent to which the energy balance is sustainable for the planet, a region or an individual country.

      “We must keep moving towards generation IV reactors and a closed fuel cycle, to recycling fuel, to reducing radioactive waste to a minimum. The strategic aim is an equivalent exchange with nature – whatever radiation we take, we put back the same.

    The Global Energy Association also acted as co-organiser of a session devoted to the future of the coal industry in the era of the fight against climate change. The choice of resource to be used must be made not by regulators or producers, but by consumers – this was the message from Stepan Solzhenitsyn, the CEO of Russian energy company SUEK.

    “We don’t work with regulated consumers, we work with people who are operating in markets and that is much more interesting and correct,” Solzhenitsyn told the session.

    “There is therefore no need to forecast how much coal there will be in this or that energy balance. And not just because forecasts are not a particularly noble undertaking, but because this choice must not be in the hands of suppliers or some officials but, rather, in the hands of consumers who should be getting the best possible choice, be it decarbonisation or new products.

    Zinfer Ismagilov, 2021 Global Energy laureate, devoted special attention to potential niches of demand for coal.

    “Technologies of coal processing will undergo development, in the first instance, gasificiation and production of hydrogen,” he told participants. “Even today, China already processes 100 million tonnes of coal to make useful products.

    He believed demand for coal would be bolstered by improved production efficiency and a proper assessment of the depositing capabilities of Russian forests.

    Another of the 2021 Global Energy laureates, Yi Cui, spoke at the session “Dialogue among equals” – part of the Russian Energy Week’s youth day.  One of the main topics of his address concerned the future of hydrogen energy.

   “If we manage to lower the unit costs of hydrogen production to $1 per kg it could be a widely used energy source…as would be the case of a solution to help store energy for more than a week, more than a month and in doing so take account of seasonal variations,” he told the session.

    Cui also saw good prospects for hydrogen use in public transport (350 million vehicles world-wide) now operating on diesel fuel.

    The main focus of the youth day was the address by Alexander Novak which took the form of a discussion between the deputy prime minister, the president of the Global Energy Association, Sergey Brilev and the assembled students from Russian higher education institutions.

    “For our country, the energy transition is a great opportunity to remain among the technological leaders as well as a chance for possible diversification of traditional energy and development of new energy,” Novak told the gathering. “That will enable us to reduce emissions, improve the climatic situation and fulfil orders for science and industry.”   

    The deputy prime minister said the energy transition could provide an impulse to various sector of Russian energy – particularly the nuclear industry, where new opportunities were emerging for the use of small-scale reactors, as well as the oil and gas sector, given that stocks of lithium needed for electric vehicles were found near oil and gas fields.

    In the course of the forum’s youth day, Alexander Novak presented awards to winner of the “Energy of Breakthrough” hackathon staged by Global Energy in partnership with the Moscow Power Engineering Institute and the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas.

    Two teams were declared the winners – Hack Misis, whose idea was aimed at minimising losses of gas in case of mishaps on gas pipelines, and Iter, which proposed an algorithm to be used in choosing suitable locations for electric charging stations in Moscow.

    Global Energy signed an agreement with one of the hackathon’s organisers, the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas, on a strategic partnership and long-term cooperation. The two sides agreed to popularise scientific developments, conduct research and to engage students and graduate students in joint projects.

    Global Energy staged a colloquium with another organiser of the hackathon, the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, at which Global Energy Prize laureates spoke of their work. Among them was Suleyman Allakhverdiev, laureate in the “Non-Conventional Energy” nomination for his achievements in the design for a system of artificial photosynthesis.

    “Coal, oil and gas are products of photosynthesis. The task with our colleagues is to create models and carry out artificial synthesis in more optimal conditions that those occurring in nature,” Allakhverdiev said in explaining the object of his research. He predicted that this technology would go beyond the framework of laboratory experiments within 10 to 20 years.

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