Towards an accelerated energy transition in Mediterranean region

At the half-way point between COP21 in Paris and COP22 in Marrakesh, and two months from MedCOP Climate in Tangiers, the 4th MEDENER Conference held in Algiers on 25th May, 2016, marked out the route to be followed for the Mediterranean to engage in energy transition.
This resource-rich region suffers however from a poor integration of its energy facilities and is facing a rise in demand for electricity.
Three hundred participants listened to the debates on the theme "Accelerating energy transition in the Mediterranean – Towards a new sustainable energy mix", an update on the urgency for energy transition and a reminder of how energy transition and energy efficiency complement each other.

Ahmed Messili, secretary generalof the Ministry of Energy (Algeria). Photo FD
Ahmed Messili, secretary generalof the Ministry of Energy (Algeria). Photo FD
"Only efficient, balanced, regional cooperation can bring sustainable regional development." In opening the 4th MEDENER International Conference, held in Algiers on 25th May, 2016, Ahmed Messili called energy transition "an economic challenge the Southern Mediterranean countries have to overcome." For the secretary general of the Algerian Ministry of Energy, "They must acquire clean technologies through knowledge and technology transfers."
Tudor Constantinescu, principal adviser to the Director General for Energy in the European Commission, also wants Mediterranean countries to "better promote new technologies, a key factor in the renewable energy sector and in energy efficiency." All this requires exchanges and collaboration between universities and research centres in the Mediterranean Basin. "It is a win-win partnership. Our success in seeing this huge project through relies on us communicating and bringing all the stakeholders into play, including civil society," points out Ahmed Messili.

The members of the MEDENER, an association bringing together national agencies for energy efficiency and renewable energies from the Mediterranean region, and the co-organizer, the Algerian Agency for the Promotion and Reorganization of Energy Use (APRUE), put the accent on the urgent need to provide answers at a time when ¾ of the energy used in Mediterranean countries comes from hydrocarbon fuels.

Specific answers required for the Mediterranean

Bruno Lechevin, chairman of the ADEME. Photo FD
Bruno Lechevin, chairman of the ADEME. Photo FD
"A common and visionary policy is needed. The energy transition scenario for the Mediterranean Basin must be implemented," underlines Hassen El Agrebi, of the secretarial department of the presidency MEDENER. His call is echoed by Bruno Lechevin, chairman of the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) who adds, "Energy transition is under way, but we need to speed it up, act quickly and in concert through close regional cooperation." He also calls for the "development of tools to assess what needs to be done", mentioning in particular the 2040 scenario for energy transition in the Mediterranean published by the MEDENER (see box) and the Mediterranean Observatory for Energy (OME), with the support of the ADEME.

For Jorge Borrego, secretary general in charge of energy and climate action at the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), "The Mediterranean is an ecosystem. It requires specific solutions. It still faces numerous challenges but it provides huge opportunities."

"Northern countries must support the southern countries"

Houda Ben-Jannet Allal, DG of the OME. Photo FD
Houda Ben-Jannet Allal, DG of the OME. Photo FD
"Energy efficiency and renewable energies are the two pillars supporting energy transition," says Ahmed Messili, for whom "the time now is for action. Algeria has begun the energy transition process, which is no passing fad. Energy resource diversification is a strategic option and a major concern." By 2030, Algeria expects to see a 10% reduction in the demand for energy and an output of 22GW, of which 60% will be solar.

For Prof. Chems Eddine Chitour of the École Nationale Polytechnique d'Alger, "The fall in the price of oil is a blessing. We must now consume less and consume better. The northern countries must support the southern countries. The South has the potential, the North the know-how."

"Energy efficiency is an opportunity more than a constraint. The cheapest electricity is the electricity we don't use !" remarks Kawther Lahidheb, expert at MED-ENEC (a regional project funded by the European Union aimed at increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies in buildings in southern and eastern Mediterranean countries). She maintains that the measures required are just plain common sense: reducing thermal loads, optimizing "natural" energy savings (orientation and type of renewable energies), encouraging the use of energy-efficient equipment, minimizing the impact of buildings on the urban environment and stepping up controls using automation technologies in buildings.

Houda Ben Jannet Allal, director-general of the Mediterranean Observatory for Energy (OME), notes that, presently, "the Mediterranean is not the most dynamic region when it comes to renewable energy. Most of the growth can be seen on the northern rim of the Mediterranean and in Turkey," while recognizing that there are "encouraging signs that could herald a better future." Indeed, one piece of data does stand out : in 2016, for the first time, renewable energies are expected to overtake gas as the main energy source for electricity production.

Towards an accelerated energy transition in Mediterranean region
ADEME and partners showcase best Mediterranean initiatives for adapting to climate change

The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME), together with its Mediterranean partners, has launched a competition to find the best initiatives in the Mediterranean Basin* for adapting to climate change.

Aimed at local authorities, national energy agencies, NGOs partnering local stakeholders and universities, the competition will reward three projects in one of the chosen fields: planning, infrastructure and facilities, ecosystems and natural resources and methods of design and implementation of government policies.

The application deadline is 16th September, 2016, with the awards ceremony scheduled two months later at COP 22 in Marrakesh, to which the award-winners will be invited free-of-charge.

The awards partners are the the Mediterranean Association of National Agencies for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy ( MEDENER ), the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the Mediterranean Commission of United Cities and Local Governments (CGLU Med), Plan Bleu and the Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change (MedECC).

* Albania, Algeria, Palestinian Authority, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Croatia, Egypt, Spain, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Portugal, Slovenia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey.

Special issue : Medener-energy transition with ADEME

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Tuesday, July 19th 2016

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