In his opening speech at the Greentech, Green Energy and Sustainability Exhibition and Conference in Zalaegerszeg on Thursday, László Palkovics stressed the need to strengthen energy sovereignty, diversify energy supply, increase the level of domestic resources and the share of renewable energy sources. There is a need to optimise energy networks, but energy affordability is also a priority.
According to the Minister, “until a year and a half ago, the world seemed bright, there was energy”, and today the most important questions seem to be whether you can fill up at the petrol station and whether there is electricity at the socket. By creating the new Ministry of Technology and Industry (TIM), the Government has also declared that it will not give up the goal of greening the environment, but answers must be provided to the challenging environment, he noted.
Among the energy challenges, the Minister mentioned that Hungary is not very rich in energy resources, but noted that it has managed to make energy pipelines interconnectable with almost all neighbouring countries from all directions. He added that oil imports had become a new issue, but “we cannot support the EU’s request for an embargo because it would make the country unmanageable for a long time”.
He recalled that electricity prices had risen by 300% in one year, the last time this had happened was in the 1970s. Both society and industry call for climate-friendly solutions, but storing electricity, for example, requires batteries, which are energy- and water-intensive to produce.
He mentioned that there are innovative technologies that have not been addressed yet because they didn’t seem important, but may be needed in the changed environment. Among the examples, he mentioned the extraction of shale gas from the Makó shale gas field or the reopening of the closed oil wells in Zala. We need to think about how to increase our annual gas production from 1.5 billion cubic metres to 2.5 billion cubic metres per year, said László Palkovics.
The energy policy is also determined by climate policy aspects, and the new ministry also aims to properly address or resolve this contradiction, he said, recalling that Hungary was the first country in the region to legislate on the reduction of emissions and the achievement of carbon neutrality.
According to the Minister, the improvement of the electricity grid has not been given sufficient attention until now, and the country has no storage capacity, but now hydrogen can be used as an energy storage and green energy source, and the service time of the Paks nuclear power plant also needs to be extended.
He also noted that the Mátra Power Plant is to be made environmentally friendly, with lignite-fired units to be shut down in 2025, but kept as a reserve. Concurrently, a hydrogen power plant and a solar farm would be set up. On the latter, he also noted that in the future, solar park operators will also have to provide for at least 30 percent of storage capacity.
In order to strengthen the country’s energy sovereignty, the country needs an investment of about 16 billion euros, and this source is “technically available”, and “negotiations are underway with the European Union as to when we can get it”, Mr Palkovics said.
He also pointed out that the possibilities for the extraction of “critical energy carriers and raw materials” in Hungary should be re-examined. In the past, the technology was expensive and would not have been competitive, but this has changed in many cases, and there is a need for greater emphasis on processing waste as a source of raw materials and energy.