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Energy horizons

Global energy market is changing rapidly: production of shale hydrocarbons is getting cheaper while delivering liquefied natural gas, solar and wind energy to consumers is becoming easier. Russia has to find answers to these challenges. On May 19, 2015, in St. Petersburg, experts publicly discussed the concept of the System for Monitoring and Foresight of S&T Progress in the Power Industry.

Global energy market is changing rapidly: production of shale hydrocarbons is getting cheaper while delivering liquefied natural gas, solar and wind energy to consumers is becoming easier. Russia has to find answers to these challenges. On May 19, 2015, in St. Petersburg, experts publicly discussed the concept of the System for Monitoring and Foresight of S&T Progress in the Power Industry.

The System for Monitoring and Foresight of S&T Progress in the Power Industry is a part of the national S&T Foresight System, which is designed to identify the long-term socio-economic and science and technology development areas that are most important to Russia (in the time frame of 2030–2040). The power industry is a sector where such forecasting is particularly important, given the emerging threats to the country’s positions on the global energy markets, its technological dependency in certain production and processing areas, and the gap between the R&D sphere and the production. To solve these problems, the Russian energy sector must clearly understand towards which horizons it should move on, and how.

Innovations is the main resource of the fuel and energy complex’s future

The public discussion on the System for Monitoring and Foresight of S&T Progress in the Power Industry was organised by the Russian Ministry of Energy and the HSE in the framework of the III Russian International Energy Forum (19–21 May, 2015, Expoforum Exhibition Centre, St. Petersburg).

Speaking at the plenary session, Alexei Kulapin, director of the Russian Ministry of Energy’s State Energy Policy Department, stressed that “the country is facing the objective of switching from resource-based growth model to high-tech-based one. Innovations are of course an important resource for performing this shift. We must carry on with development and application of our own cutting-edge technologies and materials on a par with top international achievements, thus creating a foundation for further progress and making the industry more sustainable against external factors”.

In the course of the public discussion, Alexei Kulapin noted that the monitoring and Foresight system for the power industry must help to set correct S&T development priorities and contribute to the Russian fuel and energy complex’s main players’ timely responses to technological challenges. Alexander Sokolov, deputy director of the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge and director of the Higher School of Economics’ Foresight Centre, spoke about the monitoring and forecasting system in more detail.

Monitoring, Foresight, and support

According to Alexander Sokolov, the main objective of the system is to support the shaping of proactive long-term policy for the sector, which would contribute to promoting S&T progress. The system is supposed to comprise three sub-systems:

1) monitoring global and national S&T development trends in the energy sector; searching and analysing information about prospective R&D by Russian and international energy companies;

2) preparing and adjusting the S&T development Foresight for the energy sector; identifying priority areas, developing lists of critical technologies and national roadmaps for fuel and energy industries;

3) providing methodological support for the Russian Ministry of Energy and energy companies in the area of the Foresight of S&T and innovation-based development, including creation of an integrated public database of Foresight studies’ results.

Another HSE speaker, Sergei Filippov, director of the HSE Energy Institute and the Energy Research Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke on how the expert community assesses energy industry’s development prospects (by combining the Foresight and system analysis techniques), and commented on the first results of this work — draft lists of priority development areas and critical technologies for the fuel and energy complex.

High expectations

The energy sector expects impressive results from the System for Monitoring and Foresight of S&T Progress in the Power Industry, including a technological development Foresight for the industry, official lists of priority development areas and critical technologies for the fuel and energy complex, and technology road maps for the sector’s industries.

The monitoring and Foresight system is expected to help all participants of the sector’s innovation system – the Russian Ministry of Energy, major companies, development industries, R&D foundations and organisations, universities, technology platforms and territorial clusters – to check their long-term strategies against each other, and coordinate joint work.

On the whole, the participants of the public discussion supported the development of the system in line with the concept presented in the main reports, and confirmed that fuel and energy organisations have high demand for its expected results. 

By Karina Nazaretyan