I had the pleasure of attending the World Future Energy Expo event in Astana, Kazakhstan recently (July 2017). The expo and summit is one of the largest events dedicated to future energy and related technologies. Almost every country and region in the World exhibited their best technologies, projects, case studies, research and progress in renewable energy, energy technologies and national policies. Mixed into this vast exhibition of technology and innovation was a display of cultural and local treasures, highlighting the numerous, wonderful and fascinating cultures from around the World. I was especially impressed with the host nations’ pavilion. Kazakhstan, an emerging economy and forward thinking Country, has emphatically captured the imagination of the word ‘future’ in every sense. Their pavilion was like stepping into the set of a Star Trek movie (literally, there was a space themed exhibition in a giant spherical glass building, with an enormous model of the Sun, and a space man descending from the ceiling).
As fun as all the fancy displays were, even more impressive was the science and tech behind the ‘future energy revolution’ unfolding in many countries. I was surprised to see so many countries (not companies) talking about moving to 100% clean energy in the near future. Many countries had electric vehicles, solar PV, wind and hydro resources at the centre of their clean energy transitions, along with novel utility business models with smart metering, IoT, block-chain and even artificial intelligence (AI) taking a pivotal role. It was also good to see a range of technologies being promoted; from small scale biogas to energy efficient cooking stoves, to energy storage and even tidal/wave technology finally making a splash!
Through conversation with senior policy makers from Azerbaijan and other countries, I better appreciate now the ‘local’ challenges of tackling the energy problem and climate change impacts. Their 3 cents (US) per KWh of energy cost as compared to almost 20 c/KWh in the UK makes for very different ‘payback’ and ROI scenarios, so an obvious solution in one country might not be so true in another.
Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) were delighted to be invited to present at a capacity building workshop for senior policy makers from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Georgia as part of a wider programme organised by the Government of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. I was presenting on behalf of IES. It was a fantastic experience.
Being able to listen to local energy challenges and the innovative solutions being thought up around the World, reminded me that the ‘future energy’ we often talk about is not so futuristic as it might seem. Fortunately, it’s here now and that gives me hope.