World Energy Congress issues industry mandates

Two mandates for the electricity industry were issued from the World Energy Congress (WEC) in Tokyo:

1. The industry respond immediately to the needs of the more than 2-billion people in developing countries who have inadequate access to electricity and, therefore, little opportunity to break out of poverty into higher living standards.

2. The industry carve a path for sustainable long-term development. This path, according to the WEC statement, must recognize the inevitability of world population growth, expected to jump from the current 5.8 billion to 8 billion in 2020, and the urgency of economic development in order to provide people with an acceptable quality of life. The path would also need to address local and global issues, including global warming and threats to biodiversity.

“The crux of the matter is a fundamental educational process needed to bring all parties–governments, businesses and people generally–to a greater sense of realism about what is required and the decisions that will have to be taken,” the WEC statement said.

The WEC also called for a phase out of energy subsidies; so decisions in the future will be made on the basis of costs, adding that full-cost pricing of energy must reflect long-term marginal costs of supplies, and should ideally incorporate the costs of environmental damages or protections.

New partnerships between industry, consumers and governments–with a “judicious” mix of government regulation, tightening performance standards and market liberalization–will be required, according to the WEC.

The WEC predicts a need over the next 30 years for a wider range of fuels to satisfy increasing demands, including fossil fuels, nuclear development and viable renewable energy. Government programs to finance and develop renewable energy are expected to increase in the future. In the meantime, corporate research and development directed at improving energy efficiency need to be increased, including research into nuclear technologies, the WEC said.

The theme of the six-day meeting was “Energy for our Common World–What will the future ask of us?” The WEC answer: “The requisite policy, business and end-consumer decision-making must start now to ensure the successful transition to sustainable commercial energy provision and use.”

Additional recommendations from the Congress include:

– a drive to improve education regarding implications of sustainable energy provision;

– an increase in efforts to develop commercial renewable energy sources;

– a greater effort by governments and the nuclear industry to ensure public acceptance of nuclear power;

– effect competition in energy markets, with proper weight given to sustainable development needs; and

– partnerships between the developed and developing countries to ensure commercial energy continues to spread to the impoverished members of the world population.