Francesco La Camera, Director General of IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, was hosted on Thursday 28th in the April Smart Talk that focused on “Renewable Energy as Leverage for Mediterranean Cooperation”.
Energy and renewables is an area of particular concern to the Chamber in order to strengthen relations between Italy and Cyprus in the Mediterranean framework. Additionally, the aim of IRENA is to support countries in energy transition and international cooperation in the sector.
In the introductory greeting of the Smart Talk, President Giuseppe Marino highlighted how the Chamber was really honored to have Mr Francesco La Camera as a guest and key speaker. In fact, the Director General of IRENA covers a really important institutional role at the international level.
Afterwards, the discussion was moderated by Costas Katsaros, Vice President of the Chamber.
The Role of IRENA
The Smart Talk with Mr Francesco La Camera, Director General of IRENA, started with the introduction to the audience of the International Renewable Energy Agency, its mission and its scope. IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation. IRENA is a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.
After that, Mr La Camera highlighted how IRENA’s priority is to give more information, knowledge and publications to demonstrate the competitiveness of the renewables market.
Furthermore, IRENA promotes jobs, education and capacity building. In detail, the Director General underlined that, in supporting policymakers, IRENA sustained 72 countries to realize their National Energy Plan.
Moreover, among IRENA’s activities, it plays a key role in analysis and publication. One of the latest issues, published at the end of March, regarded climate change, in order to increase awareness about the possible risks related to it.
Besides, the Smart Talk highlighted how Renewable Energy is a main sector of interest for investments, and the new data released by IRENA shows that it continued to grow and gain momentum despite global uncertainties.
Renewable Energy Sources (RES)
Mr Francesco La Camera, referring to the fact that the energy transition is taking place, pointed out how investments in RES are growing, although not at the necessary speed and scale. This type of investment leads to two types of benefits: economic and social. In fact, RES price is decreasing and becoming more competitive. Economic benefits relate to GDP, while social benefits relate to job creation (the Paris Agreement’s goal is to create 85 million jobs by 2030) and a more inclusive labour market in the sector, which is increasingly opening for women. In order to create a world that will be less unequalled, RES can be a powerful tool, affirmed Mr La Camera.
Subsequently, the General Director La Camera responded to the question regarding what type of RES Italy and Cyprus should consider achieving climate goals. Indeed, the world can no longer rely on fossil fuels to meet its energy demand. Especially considering climate change and uncertainties related to geopolitics. Particularly, Mr Francesco La Camera said that RES should be considered with a holistic approach, as every capacity to produce renewable is welcomed. IRENA is working with Italy, for instance, to prepare a report on an off-shore wind plan to exploit this kind of potentiality. As well as for Cyprus, the solar is the best solution, and considering the limited land available a good solution is to exploit the rooftop of houses also in the cities.
Furthermore, the Smart Talk went into deep regarding Green Hydrogen (GH) as Italy can be a key leader in Europe in this field. Firstly, Italy already possesses advanced research centres and one of the most capillary infrastructures for gas distribution that can be also suitable for the distribution of GH. Secondly, Mr La Camera explained in which dimension this advantage can be exploited. Thirdly, and most importantly, he focused on the importance to make a choice in regard to the governance of the system.
Hydrogen can be competitive in two areas, one is the cost of production, and the other is the cost of transport. There is a strong push to import Hydrogen from North Africa. The Government can choose to import Hydrogen from North Africa for its low production cost. Afterwards, it distributes to heavy industries such as cement, and petrochemical, besides for long transport and shipping.
The other choice can be to produce hydrogen nearby the sites where it is needed.
In conclusion, the Director General of IRENA suggested that the best solution is to combine the two prospective. On one hand, importing at a lower cost the hydrogen to be distributed in the EU and on the other hand feeding the internal system with the production at home.
Finally, during the conclusions, Vice President Federico Franchina renovated the Chamber’s commitment to continue promoting awareness in the field of renewable energy. Above all, he reaffirmed the availability of the Chamber for any further information and insights also related to specific projects. In fact, energy transition is not a very simple plot. Certainly, As it was considered a medium-long term plan, now it is understood that it represents a short term goal to reach for security reasons.
The Smart Talk highlighted IRENA’s approach, in terms of climate neutrality, all RES, which are welcome, from solar to wind, as Mediterranean countries have peculiarities that can attract different types of investment. Last but now least, the hydrogen and bio-mass fuel.
Above all, the conversation underlined how the RES sector enhances cooperation between States, as the transition cannot be left to one country alone, but comes from synergies among different nations, in order to assure energy security for all.
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Last modified: May 3, 2022