From the 2 -13 July 2018 we, Srilakshmi Gopal and Chris Parker, were very fortunate to participate in the Energy Union Summer Course at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium after being selected to participate in May. We were hosted in a beautiful residence of the college with our other 13 fellow participants in the historic centre of the city.
The Energy Union Summer Course covered a diverse range of topics with the focus of highlighting the challenges and vision for a common European Union energy policy. There were over thirty seminars which were held over the two-week long course covering a range of topics including an introduction to the European Union (EU), the EU energy sector, electricity markets, climate change & mitigation strategies, the rise of renewables, energy diplomacy, digitalisation of energy sector, addressing energy poverty, the proposal of the Energy Union and many many more. Each seminar was presented by an expert, which meant that every seminar was fascinating and in-depth. The sometimes conflicting opinions of the speakers on various topics were refreshing and provided us with fresh perspectives.
Figure 1: The College of Europe building C (left) at Verversdijk 16, and a session underway in the classroom (right).
“My favourite lectures were the ones on governance in the EU, presented by @Guillaume Gillet of EU Business Unit Director of InnoEnergy Brussels, and the lecture on Energy Diplomacy, presented by an expert from the European External Action Service, both of which were novel to me. It was very insightful to understand how policies come into practice and the complex mechanism and series of events that lead to making deals at the EU level.” - Srilakshmi
“One of my favourite sessions was unpacking the European Electricity Markets to understand their design and integration. This session covered topics such as price coupling optimisation, cross zonal exchanges and the role of TSOs in different countries. Another favourite of mine was When digital union meets Energy Union by Pierre Serkine where we explored changes occurring in the energy sector facilitated through digitalisation such as the application of blockchain, the use of Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning and the expansion of the Internet of Things.” - Chris
Another aspect of the course were site-visits and during the first week of the course we visited the LNG terminal in Zeebrugge operated by Fluxys. We got to see first hand the systems and equipment used for handling the import of large quantities of liquified natural gas (LNG) from LNG carriers. The Fluxys corporate presentation highlighted the role of the terminal in the European gas market, as well as Fluxys´ vision for the future role of gas in Europe.
During the second week of the course, we visited the the European Commission where we listened to presentations from DG ENER, DG CLIMA and DG GROW and engage them on the current EU policy proposals and their progression. Interesting discussions took place regarding the European Battery Alliance and the construction of a gigafactory in Europe by northvolt. We were also fortunate enough to participate in a stakeholders consultation event in Brussels entitled The EU strategy for long-term emissions reductions and listened to the keynote address by Maroš Šefcovic, European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union.
Figure 2: Visit to the LNG terminal at Zeebrugge (left), and the European Commission (right).
The two-week long course culminated with intense negotiations and discussions during the final sit-down of “the simulation game” at the College of Europe. The game attempted to replicate a trialogue between the three institutions of the EU - the Commission, the Council of Ministers and the Parliament. We had been delegated roles the week before given each of the “institutions” was given time to prepare their position before the almost two-hour long session of negotiation. This was a hands-on learning experience to understand how negotiations and deals are made keeping in mind all the diverse interests of the member states and unifying them into policy decisions and targets satisfactory to the collective whole. We finally did manage to forge a deal between the institutions!
The Energy Union Summer Course was an amazing experience and we would strongly recommend it to all people working in the energy sector. It has provided us with a full picture European energy policy landscape, valuable insights into the European energy sector, soft-skills in negotiation and unforgettable memories. We would like to thank InnoEnergy MSc School for this amazing opportunity, and congratulate the Development Office of the College of Europe on the fantastic organisation of the course.
Figure 3: The participants of the Energy Union Summer Course 2018 and DO Office organisers (left). CommUnity by InnoEnergy group photo (right) featuring, from left-to-right, Luisa Candido, Chris Parker, Pierre Serkine and Srilakshmi Gopal.