Energy Square Conference E2ZS: A Unified Goal – Decarbonization

20. 05. 2024

The Energy Industry Chamber of Slovenia (EICS) organized the Energy Square Conference E2ZS on 14 May 2024. Special emphasis was placed on the EICS sections, featuring prominent representatives from global and European associations like the Union of the Electricity Industry Eurelectric and the World Energy Council (WEC). Top domestic and international experts discussed the most pressing topics: electrification and the challenges of the e-decade, decarbonization and the use of fossil fuels, the importance of nuclear energy, and insights from Germany, Slovenia’s largest economic partner. The discussions also explored the EU’s energy goals for 2040 and 2050.

The conference was a platform for all energy-related questions, even those that various stakeholders might hesitate to voice publicly for various reasons. Ana Vučina Vršnak, Executive Director of EICS, emphasized, “EICS members are united by energy topics. As professionals, academics, and policymakers, we need to listen to each other and keep track of global developments. By listening to one another, we all benefit in the end.”

She referenced the essay “How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division” by Elif Shafak – a British-Turkish author, political scientist, and advocate for human rights and freedom of speech. Shafak highlights the contagious anxiety of modern society, overwhelmed by events, injustice, and an endless feeling of crisis. The energy sector faces numerous unanswered questions and seeks clear solutions. Shafak’s call for conscious optimism underscores the need to listen, foster democracy, empathy, and a belief in a kinder, brighter future. In this spirit, EICS aims to create an open, candid, and constructive dialogue through the Energy Square Conference.



Through its sections, EICS cooperates with international organizations such as Eurelectric and the World Energy Council (WEC), which operates in almost 100 countries. This segment featured three significant international guests from these two organizations.

Kristian Ruby, Secretary General at Eurelectric, opened the discussion with a focus on the e-decade and/or e-century. In his opinion world history went to warp speed, things changed so fast in the last two years, compared to what we were used to. The green transition is a complex process demanding much from everyone involved, “We are not going to do this alone, the only way to do this is to work together.” He stressed the need for a new electrification plan in Europe, emphasizing that it is time to shift from setting numerous priorities to implementing agreed-upon regulations. He noted that while 72% of carbon-free electricity was produced in Europe, 50% came from renewables and 23% from nuclear. We need to acknowledge that we came a long way in the electric decade.

Ruby concluded by emphasizing the need for European industry to transition from a state of dependence to a position of greater strength and resilience. He urged, “let’s make sure that we deliver on the electric decade, on the electric century for a strong and competitive industrial Europe.”

He didn’t have a PPT presentation.

The second speaker Dr. Carsten Rolle, Head of Energy and Climate Policy, The Federation of German Industries (BDI), and Executive Director of the German Committee World Energy Council (WEC) – Weltenergierat Deutschland, highlighted that renewables account for 53% of the total electricity generation in Germany and plans to phase out coal by 2038, aiming by 2030. He discussed renewable energy, which they need to increase if they want to achieve the target of 80% of electric energy from renewables. He presented a national hydrogen and carbon management strategy, stressing the need for significant investments in the energy system to ensure competitiveness and sustainability.

Regarding industry and its decarbonization, Rolle emphasized three key points:

    • Carbon pricing through the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).
    • Funding programmes via Carbon Contracts for Difference (CfD) and Important Projects of Common European Interest (PCI).
    • Regulations through green lead markets and carbon management strategies.

His presentation is available HERE.

Dr. William D’haeseleer, Emeritus Professor from KU Leuven, Belgium, and Chair of WEC Belgium, concluded the first part of the conference by addressing European and global challenges, the European Commission’s goals for the coming decades, and the energy trilemma within the framework of the World Energy Council (WEC). He emphasized that the primary goal of the current energy transition should be decarbonization by 2050, with other goals being secondary. He stressed the importance of energy supply security and maintaining affordable societal costs. The fundamental question should be “How fast should we move toward decarbonization?”. He questioned why Europe, which currently accounts for only 7% of the world’s annual CO2 emissions, should strive to lead in decarbonization. He argued that Europe has a historic responsibility and should set an example, but in a clever and supportive way. In his opinion, technology has to be a solution, it is the only answer we have. He advocated for an energy system with minimal restrictions to avoid cost increases, emphasizing that the guiding principle for all policies should be “the polluter pays.” The energy trilemma must be target-oriented, effective, and efficient, but social support and public acceptance are also crucial.

He concluded by stating that the energy transition should not be underestimated. His key message was to remain optimistic, but realistic: be a ‘possibilist’; and be transparent about the costs and difficulties of the green transition.

His presentation is available HERE.



Moderated by Ana Vučina Vršnak, Executive Director of EICS, this session featured a debate with international guests Kristian Ruby, Dr. Carsten Rolle, Dr. William D’haeseleer, and Slovenian anthropologist Dr. Dan Podjed, Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian Language (ZRS CAZU) and journalist, editor and presenter at RTV Slovenia Tanja Starič.

Dr. Dan Podjed emphasized the importance of using relatable terms like “moderation” instead of technical jargon. Tanja Starič highlighted the media’s role in translating complex terms for the public, stressing that green initiatives must be understandable to gain public support. The audience inquired about future electricity prices in two, five, or ten years, to which Dr. D’haeseleer responded that while future prices are uncertain, investments in the electricity system are essential for long-term affordability.

The future, it seems, will be “green” and “digital”, so the discussion also touched on the rising demand for digital services and the importance of cybersecurity in the context of energy consumption and data transmission.

Final Thoughts

The conference concluded with advice to the younger generation to look beyond catchy slogans and delve deeply into energy issues. Speakers believe that a promising young generation is coming and that we can learn a lot from our predecessors, who already knew many solutions, such as the concept of an energy community. Embracing this legacy of innovative thinking can inspire and guide us towards a more sustainable and collaborative energy future.