Fossil-fuel energy has fostered industrialization, economic growth and prosperity in the developed world. In fact, developed nations exist largely because fossil fuels have allowed for affordable and reliable energy. But today, environmental concerns are driving developed nations to invest large sums of money to change their energy sources and infrastructure to support a clean environment. The question is, “Should emerging and developing nations develop their energy infrastructure from these same traditional energy sources, or are there now other, better options available to them?”
This conference brings together scholars, scientists, researchers and business executives from the renewable energy and natural gas industries, representatives from non-governmental and governmental organizations, and officials from developed, developing and emerging countries, especially African countries. Together we will explore ways to implement a new paradigm for sustainably supplying the energy needed for economic growth in economies—particularly in Africa—where the energy infrastructure has not been fully developed.
This new paradigm is driven by advances in renewable energy technologies, combined with technological improvements that are now making available vast unconventional natural gas supplies in shale formations ubiquitously dispersed throughout the world. This paradigm is taking hold in the developed world today as natural gas, complemented by wind and solar power, gains traction as the preferred approach to economically competitive, cleaner and safer central electric power generation.
Employing this new paradigm, emerging and developing economies can gain access to affordable energy so essential for improved standards of living and sustainable economic growth. This innovative approach can meet the world’s energy thirst in a much more environmentally sustainable and affordable fashion.
Combining renewables and natural gas offers tremendous potential for rural areas where a centralized electrical grid power system does not currently exist and may, now, never need to be developed. In these areas, renewable energy sources can be used for light industrial and residential needs, such as lighting, cooking, heating and communications, thus providing lower-cost and cleaner energy than wood, charcoal and kerosene. In urban areas, natural gas can complement industrial-scale renewable energy supplies by affordably and cleanly fuelling centralized power systems for industrial and commercial use.
In the United States, unconventional natural gas, led by gas in onshore shale formations, is dramatically transforming the natural gas supply situation and making it possible to cost-effectively replace coal power plants with much cleaner natural gas. In some areas, natural gas is also fueling vehicles with cleaner and cheaper fuel than imported oil.
Indications are that similar unconventional gas formations are prolific throughout the world’s continents. The possibility of an indigenous natural gas supply and the vibrant industrial activity that it can support on a large scale in the not-too-distant future can transform developing and emerging economies. Already, conventional natural gas supplies are under intense development in some parts of Africa. Now a foundation is being laid for the environmentally responsible exploration and production of unconventional natural gas, principally from shales, which will vastly augment the potential reserves in Africa.
In future global commerce, creating a sustainable energy infrastructure for the African continent and other emerging and developing economies represents an unprecedented opportunity for the bold and the smart! Companies that develop, implement and utilize new energy technologies and innovative financing methods will recast the future of the emerging world and profoundly improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people. At the same time, these companies will create new revenue streams in global commerce for developed and developing nations. In sum, the world will benefit from more efficient use of new, cleaner and environmentally friendly energy.