‘Energy Olympics’ kick off in Daegu

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‘Energy Olympics’ kick off in Daegu

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Pirerre Gadonneix, World Energy Council chairman, right, is greeted by a welcoming party on his arrival at the airport in Daegu, yesterday. The World Energy Congress starts on Sunday in the southern city. [NEWS1]

The 22nd World Energy Congress kicks off at the EXCO in Daegu tomorrow with nearly 7,000 opinion leaders from 120 countries discussing world energy issues and the latest energy technology.

The five-day congress marks the 90th anniversary of the world’s largest energy event, which is also referred as “the energy Olympics.”

Under the theme “Securing Tomorrow’s Energy Today,” there will be more than 60 programs and forums to discuss a range of energy issues, from energy supply to renewable energy. So far 275 industry leaders, including energy ministers, have signed up to speak.

Hosted by the World Energy Council (WEC) and WEC Korean Member Committee, this year’s event will have 22,000 square meters (5.44 acres) of exhibition space with 263 companies from 24 countries represented, according to the organizers.

“Participants at the congress will have an unprecedented opportunity to network with top global players, explore business opportunities, secure investment and access new markets,” WEC Daegu organizing committee Chairman Cho Hwan-eik, who is also President of Korea Electric Power Corporation, said in a press release. “No other energy sector gathering brings together such a wider range of influential figures.”

Korea is the third Asian nation after India (1983) and Japan (1995) to host the triennial event, which has been running since 1924. Organizers claim that hosting the congress demonstrates Korea’s status in the world energy market. They also hope that the country will highlight energy issues in Asia, which has become the world’s biggest energy market.

The congress will focus on discussing today’s “energy trilemma” - how to secure global energy supplies, ensure social equity and energy access, and mitigate negative environmental effects.

According to data from the WEC, it is estimated that global investment in the energy sector could reach $36 trillion by 2050 in order to deliver clean energy solutions and maintain growth. During this time period, it is expected that the demand for energy will at least double, while greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by at least 50 percent.

In addition, it is important to help more than 1.3 billion people in the world who live without access to electricity, according to the WEC, which represents over 3,000 member organizations in 92 countries, including governments, industry and research institutions.

“We are experiencing an era of energy transition as the world shifts its focus from fossil fuels - oil, gas, and coal - to new forms of renewable energy such as wind, solar and biofuels as well as nuclear power,” said Daesung Group Chairman Younghoon David Kim, who will start a three-year term as the cochair of the WEC at the end of the congress. “This transition will have a profound impact on energy security and social equity when it comes to energy access and protecting the environment by curbing climate change.”

Meanwhile, the city of Daegu is hoping to raise its image as the nation’s green-growth capital through the congress and boost its international profile as a host city for events. According to research from Daegu Gyeongbuk Research Institute, the direct economic impact of hosting the congress could reach 43.5 billion won ($41 million) with the addition of 363 jobs. It also estimated that the city could earn nearly 20 billion won in tourism revenue.

Korean companies are trying to market themselves to guests at the congress. SK Innovation, the holding company of SK Group’s energy affiliates, is the only private company to become a host sponsor of the event. It will introduce its products and technology through its exhibition space, while other refiners like GS Caltex, S-Oil and Hyundai Oilbank will also sponsor the event.

The nation’s top steelmaker, Posco, and ship manufacturer Hyundai Heavy Industries are also attending the event. LG Group is displaying energy-related products from its affiliates at a 270 square meter exhibition booth.

Hyundai Motor, the nation’s largest automaker, will support the event by lending 50 Equus luxury sedans, a Tucson ix hydrogen fuel cell SUV and a hydrogen fuel cell bus.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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