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Energy Trilemma – Ensuring the Balance through Integration

May 29, 20:04 UTC+3
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The concept of Energy Trilemma developed by the World Energy Council is based on three core dimensions: energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability. A balance between them would be impossible without international cooperation at different levels and integration of energy systems. However, the politicisation of the issue impedes its solution.

According to the concept, every nation must maintain a balance between the three pillars of the trilemma. Hence the countries with a focus on environment (using geothermal energy and hydroenergy), such as Iceland, Columbia or the Philippines, can rely too much on one source of energy only, which brings down the level of their energy security. Oil-producing nations, on the contrary, should expand their use of renewable energy sources.

The balance is assessed using the index developed by the World Energy Council (World Energy Trilemma Index).

Today nine out of ten leading countries in the index are European (with New Zealand on the 9th spot and Russia ranking 45th out of 125). This is largely a result of Europe’s long-term balanced energy policy:

  • In 1992, the European Union started creating its uniform energy infrastructure (Treaty on European Union, Maastricht).
  • In 1995, a uniform energy policy for the European Union was developed (White Paper An energy policy for the European Union, Brussels).
  • In 2006, a European strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy was drafted.
  • In 2011, the Energy Roadmap 2050 was approved, contemplating decarbonisation and security of the energy system (Energy Roadmap 2050, Brussels).

Cooperation with Russia plays an important role for the EU, not only in supply of hydrocarbons, but also in integration of nuclear energy.

  • In 2013, the Roadmap for EURussia Energy Cooperation until 2050 was signed. Its main goal is to form a pan-European energy space with an integrated network infrastructure. However, the plans are now impeded by a change in the political environment.
  • In October 2016 at the World Energy Congress, President Vladimir Putin called the use of unilateral sanctions (a restricted access to investment resources and technology) an attempt to restrain the energy industry development for political reasons.
  • Several EU countries supported by the US are politicising the Russian project of Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. The opponents of the project argue that its nature is rather political than commercial and that it poses a threat to Europe’s energy security.

The integration measures within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have become a step towards energy security on the continent:

  • In 2016, the members of the Union signed a concept to create joint EAEU markets of oil and petroleum products and a similar resolution concerning natural gas. In accordance with these documents, the EAEU oil and gas markets will be shaped up and full-fledged by 2024.
  • The stages of uniform electricity market creation have been determined. The programme to establish the market is to be completed by 2019.

Russia’s energy integration also plays an important role in East Asia.

The largest-scale project is the Asian Energy Ring, which will connect the energy systems of Russia, Japan, Korea and China. The commencement of the work was announced at the 2016 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The first stage of the Ring is RussiaJapan. The project will enable its participants to obtain cheaper, more affordable energy and boost their energy security.

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