Technological innovation and the digitalisation of industry are indispensable driving forces behind a successful Energy Union in Europe. Key to this objective is the infrastructure of a North–South Corridor between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas. Its realisation requires the establishment of a platform that would bring together all relevant players and develop proper financial and regulatory solutions. These are main findings of the ‘29+1’ Annual Energy Summit, organised by Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP), which took place on June 15–16, 2015, in Warsaw.
CEEP members – who comprise Central Europe’s leading energy and energy-intensive companies – entered into a comprehensive exchange of findings and views with the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mr. Günther Oettinger. They underlined that whilst energy constitutes the backbone of the European economy, unfortunately, integration of the EU-11 in the energy field with the EU-15 is not keeping pace.
“Together with Commissioner Oettinger, we agreed that our future economic development depends on the implementation of an affordable energy and digital infrastructure. To firmly and cost-efficiently interlink the whole European Union, we need a North–South Corridor, which includes energy pipelines, power lines, highways, railways, and telecommunication grids. The Corridor is also essential to successful participation of the region in the global economy, whilst also improving the capacity of our countries concerning IT logistics and to deal effectively with cyber-threats,” asserted Paweł Olechnowicz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Central Europe Energy Partners.
The Warsaw Memorandum, which was handed to Commissioner Oettinger at the end of the summit, reflected the general position of participants. They welcomed the establishment of the Connecting Europe Facilities (CEF) and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). They also underlined that insufficient technological innovation and infrastructural connectivity is especially a burden upon countries from Central Europe.
[Tweet "Innovative technologies and gains in efficiency can help reduce costs and increase competitiveness "]“The financial impulse from the European Funds can lead to multiple investments that will secure the implementation of the necessary technological innovation and digital transformation of the energy industry. Innovative technologies and gains in efficiency can help reduce costs and increase competitiveness for European energy and energy-intensive businesses. For this purpose, the development of the energy infrastructure, and the expansion of digital communication networks that can provide the necessary ‘quality of service’, is of the essence,” stated Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.
IT, being the universal enabling technology, conditions the application of modern manufacturing processes, transportation, industrial process management and control, communication, trade, markets and many other, crucial areas of our economic activity. IT is ever present in the energy sector, controlling and running systems and industrial equipment that produce, process, transport and deliver energy to the market. Moreover, it is also responsible for safety of the energy generation process, across the full technology cycle, is the backbone of emergency and crisis management response and supports energy security.
Nowhere is the impact of IT on energy and energy intensive sector more evident than in the energy infrastructure development, use and protection. Energy infrastructure, in turn, conditions the functioning of the European energy markets, soon to be transformed into a single Internal Energy Market, and the effective implementation of all the 5 pillars of the Energy Union policy.
It is clear that without an active Digital Economy Policy, we would not be able to stand-up to the ultimate challenge of the EU energy and energy security policy: to deliver required, uninterrupted amounts of energy, on time and without failing, to all markets, countries and citizens of the EU. In this time of flux and change we must pay particular attention to the resilience of our energy market and its growing dependency on management through IT. Systems that control energy flow are as prone to cyber threats, as our communication networks. We need to look here for more robust solutions, revisit and review industrial systems security procedures and develop effective prevention, response and management procedures.