Europe's future demand for electric power. That saidall forecasts point to rising European demand forelectricity in the coming decades, net of expecteddemand-side efficiency and conservations gains. It is in that scenario that a reinvigoration of supply-sideopportunities or more resource-efficient electric powergeneration can be seen for what it is - a strategicimperative for Europe. Many activities have the potential of increasing theefficiency of the production and transmission ofenergy, some costing very little. From retrofitting and/or replacing equipment to more investment-heavy measures like fuel switching, there are a host of technology changes that can bring aboutsignificant fuel efficiency improvements in the powergeneration sector, including: turbine upgrades, fuelswitching, and combined heat and power and waste-heat utilisation. "General Electric is a leader in the development ofsolutions in all these areas. At GE, we have investedover US$850 million in renewable energy technologyand production since entering the industry in 2002.Our Ecomagination products include wind turbines,high efficiency gas turbines, Smart Grid technologies,coal gasification, nuclear power, solar photovoltaics,"says Ricardo Cordoba.Given the "act now" capability, the energy securitybenefits, the widespread acceptance of thetechnologies and the cost-effectiveness that supplyside energy efficiency offers, it should be consideredas the starting point for a broader energy efficiencystrategy and as a transition strategy to a lower-carbonand resource-efficient future.WHAT ROLE FOR THE REGIONS?With or without binding targets for energy efficiency,regions will be crucial in fighting not only climatechange but also in implementing the necessarychanges to our energy landscape which isdecentralising into the regions with small(er) scalerenewable energy plants. They can support thedevelopment of the low-carbon economy by growingthousands of new jobs, skills and economic clustersthat will be vital to ensure the investment ininfrastructure needed.GE Energy has long recognised the pivotal role thatregions have to play, to such an extent that theyfounded a groundbreaking relationship with theAssembly of European Regions (AER). Established inMay 2009, this co-operation is the result of a sharedideology between GE Energy and the AER that to findthe solutions to Europe's energy challenges andsucceed in the battle against climate change, Europe'sregions must play a central role. INNOVATION TECHNOLOGY085?
Led by Ricardo Cordoba of GE Energy and MichèleSabban, AER President, this unique coalition of publicand private sector strives to promote the value of therole of regions and federal states and the impact theycan and will have on sustainability, securing energysupplies and respect for their environment. Together, the two entities are a perfect match thanks to GE Energy's wealth of experience and theAER's reach and relationship with its extensivenetwork of regional authorities. The development of efficient energy at regional level iscritical to ensure the benefits of operating, decidingand implementing policies that will be accrued in localeconomy; 77 per cent of the 67 regions surveyedalready employing their own environmental strategies. "Regions are perfectly placed to implement suchinitiatives; they offer unique resources that can drivethe diverse energy mix required to support low- carbonenergy. They have great experience with energyinvestments and infrastructure, they are key toplanning and consent, and they are actively engagedand exercise an increasing influence over energystrategy in their territories," says Michèle Sabban.Through the support of co-operations such as the GE-AER relationship, the triple challenges of security of supply, climate change and affordabilitycan be overcome.WORKING TOWARDS AN "EFFICIENT"FUTUREEfficiency improvements are by far the most effective,they improve competitiveness and reduce emissionsyet there are several barriers that are hamperingprogress. Notably, the investment and technology risksassociated with the supply-side mean that ofteninvestors have little visibility of future rates of return. All resources are dependent upon the availability ofpredictable and sufficiently long-term revenue streamsin order to incentivise efficiency solutions to the energy system. Approaches to energy efficiency need to be developed in a coherent and co-ordinatedway so that regions can deliver substantive, robust andcost-effective solutions along the entire length of theenergy chain.Efficient energy projects can create labour-intensivesources of employment and they promote the greeneconomy. Not only are they environmentally friendlybut, in the long run, they are economically friendly,factors which are important to a post-recession EU. n1Huberty, M., Zysman, J. (2010) Governments,Markets, and Green Growth: Energy systemstransformation for sustainable prosperity086INNOVATION TECHNOLOGY