G7 eyes IEA help in reinforcing sustainable energy security

20 May 2015

IEA Executive Director (second from left in foreground) with other participants at the G7 ministers' meeting in Hamburg. © BMWi/Maurice Weiss

Energy ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) countries would like the International Energy Agency (IEA) to provide expertise as they seek to increase their nations’ collective security through various initiatives on secure energy systems.

At their Energy Ministerial meeting on 11-12 May in Hamburg, G7 ministers and their representatives from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, endorsed initiatives concerning electricity security and competitive energy markets; support for Ukraine and other vulnerable countries; energy efficiency; and domestic energy resources and innovation in energy technologies.

In the communiqué issued after the meeting, the IEA was invited to assist in all four initiatives to enhance a secure and sustainable energy supply for the seven countries and beyond.

“We regard enhanced energy efficiency and the increased deployment of renewable energy technologies, other sustainable low-carbon technologies and well-functioning and integrated markets as major pillars of a secure and sustainable energy system,” the ministers declared in setting out the IEA responsibilities.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, who also attended the meeting, said, “The IEA stands ready and willing to lend expert advice and analysis on sustainable energy security matters.” She added, “The emphasis on energy efficiency is indeed crucial, as it holds the greatest potential for resolving many of the issues.”

Among the tasks listed in the Hamburg Initiative for Sustainable Energy Security, the ministers proposed that the IEA provide recommendations about how G7 countries can best improve energy efficiency, also urging it to assist in the creation of databases to share information on the energy efficiency of products.

The ministers also asked the IEA to help determine the best means of improving electricity security, including through increasing system flexibility. Among the many avenues that the Agency will examine for the G7 will be how to better incorporate intermittent renewable energy into electricity grids to guarantee a reliable and steady supply. The IEA has already undertaken extensive analysis of viable grid integration of significant shares of electricity whose generation varies based on sunshine and winds.

During their meeting, the ministers welcomed IEA recommendations on how to enhance natural gas supply security, as requested in Rome in 2014 as part of the G7 Energy Initiative for Energy Security. The ministers urged the Agency to expand on its work by examining how to further strengthen the resilience and flexibility of markets for both pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas. IEA advice would cover emergency response, contractual arrangements, gas storage facilities, indigenous gas resources and infrastructure projects.

Finally, in discussing their concerns about the crisis in Ukraine and its impacts on neighbouring countries, the ministers called on the IEA and various international energy and financing organisations to join efforts to help the G7 and Ukraine advance energy reforms.

The heads of governments of G7 countries are expected to endorse the Hamburg Initiative at their summit meeting in June in Germany.