Yesterday I joined an international conference were some interesting speakers confirmed that large investments will be needed over the next 25 years to replace and expand our current production capabilities. Â When looking at the amounts that were mentioned by as well the Commission(DG transport) as by other expert speakers we arrived at a staggering amount from 900 billion Euro until 1 trillion Euro. Â This amount was only based on a annual growth of demand of 1.3% per year which has at least not been the case for the last past years. Â
At the end of the presentation of the representative of the Commission I was able to ask her some questions. Â One of my questions was if she could tell me what would be the minimum amount of competition needed per country to enable real competition to start. Â She mentioned the number of three to four competitors per country whether being it in supply or production.Â Besides England everybody agreed that most countries do not fulfill these minimum requirements. Â As she herself mentioned these objectives I wondered how she was going to impose them on the several governments. Â Especially in light of for example defensive mergers like in France which clearly do not support these minimum requirements. Â Strange that this same Commission approves such a merger and at the same time propagates that we need strong cross border European players. Â
Another attendant from one of the larger consumers of energy in Belgium suggested to create one European TSO so that the coordination of cross border issues would become history. Â Again everybody agreed that this would be a very efficient way forward. Â I wonder if it will ever happen, all thisÂ CEOâ€™s of national TSOâ€™s agreeing to dismantle their own companies/jobs. I fear self interest will prevent these essential steps to move forward.
Coming back on the necessary investments that will have be made I wonder if the Commission and local governments understand that we will only be able to achieve these large investments if solid and sufficient funds are made available. Â As in the past we will need to work together ,industry and government, to secure our power needs. Â As some of these investments will need to be subsidized whether they are green or nuclear a large international energy plan should be made. Â Together with the aging population energy will be one of the industries which will continue to grow and become even more strategically important. Â Looking at the scarce resources we have in Europe as far as for example gas is concerned we need to focus on innovation to be largely independent from other parts of the world. Â The last year we have seen what happens if you become depended for energy from countries were more dictatorial regimes are in place. Â It is simply not realistic to assume that problems with those types of regimes will not happen again, especially when they know we are depended on them.