The Net Zero Economy Forum, which took place in Sofia on Oct.18, brought together experts from near and far who discussed topics spanning green policies, decarbonization technologies, and successful ESG practices. The conference, organized by business media outlet Capital, happened in a hybrid format, with both live attendance and video streaming.
The event was divided into six thematic tracks, which discussed policy and geopolitical frameworks, business models and partnerships, climate-neutral transport and smart cities, energy transformation, sustainable engineering, and the industry game-changers.
One of the running themes of the conference was the impact that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had on accelerating the energy transition.
“We are facing a situation where energy prices are dramatically higher than they have been in the past few decades, and that is not due to national political decisions but it is due to geopolitical factors,” said Member of the European Parliament Radan Kanev. The prices from fossil sources will remain high over a long period of time, he added.
“The market – in its geopolitical context – provides a much stronger motivation to move to energy efficiency, renewables, and the various forms of the low-carbon economy than ever before,” Kanev said. “What we were trying to achieve with political measures is now imposed by the market itself.”
Relevant: How Could Russia Invasion Of Ukraine Change The Green Energy Transition?
According to the MEP, politicians should channel the current natural market motivation of the economic participants through simplified procedures and strong financial instruments.
Geoffrey Mansfield, General Manager Low Carbon Fuels, Trading and Supply Products at Shell, spoke about the company’s bio-LNG on the road to sustainability.
“Bio-LNG can bring significant reduction or even carbon neutrality in life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions,” he said, adding that BioLNG is especially promising as a solution that can decarbonize heavy-duty transport. Shell is expected to open a bio-LNG plant in Germany in 2023, which has the potential to abate up to a million tons of CO2 per year.
Alex Hewitt, Chair of Green Hydrogen Catapult, spoke about the role of hydrogen in the energy transition. “Hydrogen is the only viable solution for several hard-to-abate industries such as long-haul trucking, shipping, and steel,” he said. However, “non-fossil power at the scale of the current total global electricity production system” would be needed to produce the hydrogen required for decarbonization.
A panel on “Green Buildings, Materials, and Technology” brought together industry experts from Aurubis, Holcim, and Glavbolgarstroy. Rossen Papazov, Executive Director and member of the Board of Directors, Holcim Bulgaria, said that to achieve decarbonization, the building industry needs to have “standards for the carbon footprint per square meter of a built area, something that is already happening in countries like France.”
Read more: New Report Indicates Active Reduction Of Emissions In The Building Industry