10.6 Lessons Learned
General Comments: Technology transfer as presently understood in the
energy sector is a relative new process, since historically it was used as a
euphemistic term for large-scale power projects financed by multilateral banks
or for a limited knowledge transferred from the international oil and gas companies
to the national industries. The oil crises in the 70s changed this tendency
in the oil and gas sector, when powerful national oil companies were able to
negotiate technology transfer with better terms. In the early 90s the process
of market globalisation and the availability of private capital on a global
scale triggered technology transfer opportunities in the electric sector also.
Major objectives of the current energy supply technology transfer is economic
development and international competitiveness. Climate change objectives and
in particular the reduction of CO2 emission do
not play a significant role.
Even without strong interest allocated to climate change, energy efficiency
improvements and new and renewable energy sources are gaining influence but
at a lower than desirable pace. Most of the projects in non-conventional energy
sources are dependent on grants or subsidies, since they are small in size and
unable to compete with the more economic fossil fuel based energy suppliers.
Also, the number of major investors are quite small due the large capital requirement
and they are quite resistant to significant changes in the sector.
The role of government in facilitating the technology transfer of GHG reducing
technologies will continue to be important. Especially important is liberalization
of the energy market combined with appropriate environmental regulation. Useful
measures include creating economic incentives, adopting policies to ensure international
financing, promoting infrastructure development, eliminating unnecessary regulatory
and trade barriers, educating and training local workforces, protecting intellectual
property and strengthening R&D, amongst others.
Fossil Fuels: Technology transfer in the fossil fuel sector is mature,
and well-established mechanisms are in place in most countries. Technology is
readily available from a wide variety of sources, such as the oil and gas industry,
engineering contractors, equipment vendors, etc. Technology transfer comes with
investment. Although, there is no technology transfer "magic bullet".
The key to transfer of technology in the fossil fuel sector is to promote investment.
Incremental improvements in technology transfer are being made and should continue
to be encouraged by using policy instruments, such as education and awareness
programmes and voluntary agreements. Nevertheless it is necessary to identify
what incentive is there for governments of coal rich developing countries (e.g.,
China and India) to neglect using their cheap natural resource in favour of
more expensive imported fuels such as LNG or pipeline gas.
Nuclear: Technology transfer in the nuclear power sector for water-cooled/water-moderated
reactors has a well-established mechanism. To promote successful transfer of
nuclear technology, major government involvement is needed. The large capital
costs, public acceptance, availability of cheap domestic fossil fuel and the
resolution of safety and waste disposal concerns provide significant barriers
to the use of nuclear. In many cases, nuclear proliferation issues are a major
problem to be addressed by governments and other international institutions.
Renewables: Technology transfer for new and renewable energy forms are
not yet fully commercially established. Several pilot and demonstration projects,
as well as a few commercial projects have been performed under the umbrella
of the government, regional organisations, and NGOs. Examples of technology
transfer within countries and even between countries exist, showing that the
technology process can work provided a market is available for the products.
But, in comparison with conventional sources of energy we have to recognise
that technology transfer is immature. In general, renewables with the exception
of hydro cannot economically compete with fossil fuels, except in some special
markets (such as wind power) or niche markets (such as solar photovoltaic).
Externalities (clean environment, job creation, social development, etc) should
be considered. Unfortunately, the low economic value attributed to some of the
benefits provided by renewables are a serious obstacle for their supply expansion.
Also, most of these projects have been implemented in developing countries and
CEITs where experience with innovations are not well developed and it is more
difficult to add marginal technology advances - thus there is a need to promote