Category Archives: Research

Present and Historical Benefits of Nuclear Power for Hungary and the Soviets

Buda to Baja: Leg 1 of the South & Central European Energy Expedition (#SCEEE), post 2 of 2. Post 1, can be found here.

“Energy is ideology,” stated a Bulgarian energy expert in relation to Russia’s use of energy as a projection of power. But, he continued, the age of energy as a weapon is over, the options are now plentiful. While there are more options today, it is important to frame Soviet and Russian technology as a form of influence corresponding with particular ideologies and forms of governance. This is an emerging theme from my interviews and conversations on the historical role of the energy system in former Communist countries.

Picture of a young Communist worker building the foundation of Hungary's future energy system
Picture of a young Communist worker building the foundation of Hungary’s future energy system. Displayed at the Paks NPP Visitor Center.

Ideology is often perceived to be a function of governments. That is, it is a top down process – similar to building up the idea of nation. But we can also see that ideology – like market ideology in the EU – also works in the form of governance. And here I change from the use of ‘government’ to the use of ‘governance’. Because in academic literature (including mine) we perceive governance as a technocratic rule making process. This is invoked for the regulatory systems propagated by the EU. But even within the EU (and discussed elsewhere in this blog and in this project) we have the propagation of neoliberal market ideology.

The connection I want to make to nuclear power in Hungary and in former Communist countries, is the Soviet Union was able to use ‘governance’ to instill and propagate its own ideology of societal goals through technology, including scientific expertise and processes. Nuclear power was one element of the energy system used to integrate and build grand projects that modernized the economies of COMECON countries (see my previous post).

Looking at the history of Paks (and nuclear power in the region) integration of the eastern satellites into the Soviet Union was facilitated by the energy infrastructure, such as gas pipelines and nuclear facilities. This integration lends itself to political integration and resource dependency through fulfilling social contracts for the built up expectation the state will provide low cost energy – and not payed from the salaries of citizens.

Continuity of Investments

Recent Russian efforts to foster integration by building new nuclear power plants and gas pipelines in the region represents building on past investments. Continuity of investments, is an areas I’ve examined in the past for companies like E.ON and RWE entering new EU Member States, but I (and others) have overlooked and failed to perceive the sunk costs of the Russians/Soviets into the Eastern Members states’ energy infrastructure and knowledge networks. Previous rounds of investments are represented in the Paks power plant itself, built in the 1980s. There is considerable knowledge capacity (including the extensive training given to each worker) built up since the early 1980s.

Brief video of the Soviet Memorial at Dunafoldvar where I spent one night on my bike trip to Paks.

Shifting of the governance system – and also the accepted ideology – away from a centrally planned economy to one emphasizing market forces, building and operating the energy infrastructure, undercuts and devalues the previous round of investments (under the previous regime). This observation is extremely important in my later examination of the current expansion of Paks NPP. Paks therefore is not just a component of Hungary’s and the region’s energy system, but an ingrained technological, political and social element of the previous and current economic system (including the guiding ideology). Renewable energy may make market sense, due to its smaller scale and shorter payback periods, but in political and social systems operating in a governance system of centralized energy systems, nuclear power fulfills multiple five-year plans.

Nuclear power works within this centralized governance system on multiple levels, in the respective order: 1) physical; 2) knowledge; 3) economic; 4) geopolitical; and 5) social.

Physical integration into the environment
The physical location of Paks Nuclear Power plant on the bank of the Danube is as much of a technical requirement as it was for assembling the structure. Cooling towers are not necessary, as river water is used for cooling and steam generation. In addition, production of the nuclear power plant components was a regional endeavor, enabling key components to be shipped on the Danube. For example, the reactors were made in Czechoslovakia at transported on the Danube. The use of the Danube and the sourcing of the parts underscores the regional dimension and participation in nuclear power.

In my future bike trips on the Danube I will be visiting the other nuclear power plant facilities, documenting the role of the Danube in tying together both the nuclear facilities and the economies of the region.

Knowledge integration
Operating the nuclear power station required students and employees to travel to Russia and the German Democratic Republic (DDR). This extensive education and travel results in the acculturation of experts into nuclear science and operational cultures. Education and training was also done at the Technical University of Budapest, this is where the Hungarian nuclear experts formed the basis of their careers.

Interestingly, during the early years of operation at Paks, the shift of workers were duplicated. There was a Hungarian team and a Russian team of operators performing the same functions. This enabled training and assisted in double checking that everything was done according to procedures.

Economic and competitiveness
The focus here is on the role of nuclear power in laying the groundwork for lower energy prices. But let’s not lose sight that the slogan ‘too cheap to meter’ is also an American expression to demonstrate the projected prowess of nuclear power. Currently, over 50% of Hungarian electricity consumption is supplied by Paks NPP. The working assumption (by some experts) is the full cost of nuclear power is reflected in the market price. I’m currently researching the construction costs and how these were paid. But the working assumption by some Hungarian experts and politicians is the full cost of nuclear is reflected in the current electricity price. From their perspective future nuclear power is perceived to offer this price advantage over renewable or coal power. The dominant paradigm in Hungary, Bulgaria and Russia is nuclear is cost competitive, resulting in a competitive economy.

The extensive physical and knowledge integration into the Communist economic system enables a legacy of Russia to remain embedded into the nuclear power industry. This extends the technical hand of Russia and keeps the former satellites close. Thus the current raging debate over expanding Paks and how this ties Hungary to Russia for another two generations. The debate is not only technological (nuclear or not) but an issue of sovereignty and political alignment. Does Hungary want to cut off a highly symbolic and historical tie that offers Hungary economic and social strength, and go with a more short-term neoliberal market based energy system? Under the current Orban government this is simply not an option – the centralized energy system remains reflecting the political governing style.

In a region that placed science in the highest regard, and energy infrastructure development as an expression of ideology along with a symbol of economic might, moving away from large scale energy projects goes against the grain. More deeply, the embedded physical assets, the developed knowledge and supply networks contribute to a legacy system that locks-in technology, engineering choices and geopolitical influence. Shutting down the nuclear power industry in these countries is akin to shutting down German solar or closing the coal mines. In a region and country with high support for nuclear power, it is unlikely that Hungary or Bulgaria will give up nuclear power. It is essential to consider these aspects and the embeddedness of energy technology into broader political-economic and social networks.

Social integration
Politically the choice to remain with nuclear is a continued expression of national might and scientific prowess. Solar and wind energy represent – not just a decentralized system, but technology owned and developed by Western firms that also control and profit from selling this. Giving up on ‘Russian’ nuclear technology undercuts CEE politicians own political and social standings. The fond recollection by workers of how Paks was built and the role of KISZ (the young Communist party), holds a strong legacy throughout the country. The 1980s were a time of prosperity for Hungarians, Goulash Communism worked. So much so, that by the time reactors 3 and 4 were being built new Hungarian companies were supplying the technologies for these, rather than Russian ones. Entrepreneurship was alive in Hungary in the 1980s. (I’m concentrating on the nuclear up-sides of Communism, not the significant downsides of the political-social regime)

In the present day, the town of Paks thrives off the largess bestowed upon it by the power plant. The cultural life is said to be equal with cities much larger, sport and cultural clubs are prominent. It is probably the only ‘factory’ town from the 1980s still surviving in Hungary today (although maybe Gyor could be considered as well). The country as a whole is viewed benefiting from Paks. MVM (the state owned company and owner of Paks) holds significant sponsorship throughout the country of cultural events. Tangible benefits are perceived from nuclear power in Hungary. In a sense, in a political-economic climate dominated by corruption, the only law that still works is the law of physics, and the role of science (maybe things were not perceived so differently under Communism). Corrupting or swaying this scientific knowledge can only result in a disaster. At least some social faith can be placed in physics of the atom.

The term ‘governance’ has a much more modern connotation to it. Often this is expressed in reference to EU expansion and technical rule making. In relation to Soviet nuclear technology, the spread of technical knowledge and exchange of ideas among experts can also be viewed as a form of governance. Hungary’s decision to remain nuclear is set within these historical and broader networked elements that hold centralized systems essential for the political system. Socially, it is still expected government will assist in price support. Providing continuity to past investments – of a centralized system – attempts to fulfill political and social expectations. Whether this is financially sound, considering broader technological trajectories, remains to be examined.

Energy Expedition Summary: Nuclear Power and the Danube

Buda to Baja: Leg 1 of the  South & Central European Energy Expedition (#SCEEE). Post 1 of 2.

The Danube river proves to be an essential element to the energy system of Eastern Europe. The Danube integrated Eastern European Communist countries with the Soviet Union, facilitating economic cooperation through COMECON, the counterpoint to the Western OECD. To gain a unique and new perspective on energy technologies and relations I am biking down the Danube river from Budapest to the Black Sea and in a shale gas region in Poland. Here is a summary of the first Hungarian leg from Budapest to Baja.

I traveled by bike from Budapest to Baja, from May 21st to May 24th. On Friday May 22nd, I stopped at the Paks Nuclear Power Plant to meet with representatives of Paks and a local Paks politician. Honestly, after biking 140 km in the rain, over two days, their genuine hospitality and patience was outstanding. In another post, I’ll dive into the history of Paks and my visit, because first it is important to connect with the Danube river and its emerging meaning for me in the energy system of the whole Eastern European region.

Budapest to Baja: Basic route I took on bike - but there are some exceptions.
Budapest to Baja: Basic route I took on bike – but there are some exceptions.

Biking down the Danube began as a separate personal goal. It merged with my idea for a book and a research project when I realized nuclear power plants were located along the Danube. I wanted a method to connect with the average citizen to understand their perspective on regional energy politics and technologies. What I learned by this four day bike trip is the Danube serves as an essential conduit for the region’s energy infrastructure and facilitates political economic aims for integration of the region. It is a silent player in regional integration, but one which I hope to highlight through my research.

Reflecting on my trip (in a dry room back in Budapest) the perspective, I gained by riding a bike along and through the countryside surrounding the Danube, connected me to the land and water. This connection is essential when we consider the energy resources and technologies.

The natural beauty and history along the channelized Danube is striking. Contrasting these with the most technologically advanced and dangerous energy technology humans have created is profound. It is also this nature that cools and enables the technology to function. The contrast with farms, vineyards, and Roman ruins provides the historical context to frame how humans existed without electricity to the means we now use to generate electricity.

The building of Paks also relied on the Danube to transport materials: creating a regional supply chain of nuclear power plant components. For example, the reactors were made in Czechoslovakia and transported on the Danube.In addition the turbines were made in Germany, while the steam generators are Hungarian made by Ganz. The use of the Danube and the sourcing of the parts underscores the effort the Soviet Union went to create a regional involvement of countries in building a nuclear power industry – they embedded nuclear power in the region through knowledge and commercial networks.

I made it to Paks
I made it to Paks

Importantly, the building of the nuclear industry was based around COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance). COMECON served an important role in integrating the national economies of Communist states with the Soviet Union. This offered an economic and political framework to build NPPs in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. Poland, after giving the go-ahead, later opted out. In all these countries similar physical integration of parts networks and sourcing was done. Rather than the technological components emanating from Russia (as we think today), the parts suppliers drew on COMECON countries. We can now view the Danube as facilitating this relationship and construction of NPPs.

Finally, it is important to reflect on the special view biking provides in connecting the Danube to energy infrastructure. Honestly, biking in the rain for over 160 km out of about 216 km wasn’t the most enjoyable (seriously, a little pity is earned). But I really gained a new perspective. From the bike I was able to reflect on and experience Hungary, which is dramatically different from what I (and most people) experience in Budapest. Hungary has four of the poorest regions out of 20 in the EU. Placing this poverty and the people within the broader energy debate enables a better contextualization of either justifying, or not, the pursuit of certain energy technologies and policies. I look forward over the next few months to provide this perspective more for Hungary and the region.

Some experimental videos made on the way

Launching of an Energy Expedition: #SCEEE

Today I’m launching the South & Central European Energy Expedition (#SCEEE). This project stems from my interests in the energy infrastructure in the Central Eastern European region. I also have a great interest in bike riding – particularly in Hungary. I established a goal this summer to bike from Budapest to the Black Sea. Combining the two interest seemed a natural fit that align with current research into efforts to keep energy prices low in Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland. These efforts are examined withing the broader context of the region’s market alignment to the European Union and its infrastructure alignment with Russia.

I am breaking the expedition into two legs. First from Budapest to Apatin, Serbia (where my great grandparents come from). This will only be about 4 days. In August, I’ll be biking then from Apatin to the Black Sea, passing through Bulgaria and Romania. Overall, I will be biking more than 1500 km and passing many of the regions nuclear power plants, hydroelectric facilities, thermal power plants and many, many farms.

The objective of this bike expedition is to observe firsthand and document both the centralized and decentralized energy infrastructure. The formal takes the shape in facilities like nuclear power plants, gas fields, district heating systems and damns. The informal are homeowners, farmers and communities using different energy sources like wood, coal, solar, wind, biomass for energy production. I also plan on interviewing and interacting with a range of stakeholders in these communities. Interviews are scheduled ahead of time and are also ad-hoc.

Picture from a bike trip around Lake Balaton in 2014. In front of a poster proclaiming the Hungarian governments slashing of utility prices.
Picture from a bike trip around Lake Balaton in 2014. In front of a poster proclaiming the Hungarian governments slashing of utility prices.

My aims are to establish from local officials, workers and ‘ordinary’ people how energy prices and energy technologies influence their everyday lives. In particular I want to contrast this everyday perspective with the those of policy makers, industry officials and representatives of organizations. The latter are often represented in a disproportionate way in my (and other academics) research on energy policy.

This back to basic approach is meant to infuse historical field practices often used in the discipline of Geography (I’m a Geographer by training). Much of this training I received as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota Duluth under the influential Geographers of Professors Matti Kaups and Larry Knopp. In contrast, my MSc and PhD studies at the University of Bristol emphasized the theoretical approach – or at least the academic contribution stemmed more from the theoretical expression of the world, rather than expression of the world while using theory.

A final aim of the #SCEEE is to disseminate and educate to a wider audience what infrastructure exists and how local people interact with it. I will be blogging, tweeting (#SCEEE) and producing videos documenting these interactions. This real time data collection method and spot analysis will feed into more in depth research I am conducting with national level stakeholders and document analysis. Publications will be in the form of journal articles and a book on the pursuit of cheap energy prices and the social and geopolitical ramifications (and yes, I still need to find a book publisher – so offers are welcomed).

Finally, all expeditions are not launched solely in the interest of science. There is a personal interest that drives a person to explore and engage in a familiar or unfamiliar environment. This innate curiosity is what makes social science so much fun: The ability to break down larger social and environmental processes into categories that highlight systemic weaknesses or evolutionary trends (to name just a few themes). So I launch this expedition with the expectation of serendipity and chance to provide information to whet both my exploratory appetite and to inform the larger research project. My personal interest of energy and biking converge to propel both interests (literally) further down the road.

Nonetheless, looking out at the grey morning sky, I just hope my new tent repels the water that sinks many expeditions.

Diffusion of Regulatory Governance: the rise of transnational regulatory networks

It takes a long time to write a journal article. To speed up my speed, I recently checked out a book on how to write a journal article. I’m glad I did, and while I think I improved my process, it is still a long process. Particularly when drawing on new empirical data. Writing a blog provides an exciting break from the precision that should go into a journal article. Blogging actually just helps to develop the writing flow necessary to plough through complicated (sometimes boring) arguments and perspectives. Doing both provides a nice balance.

Last year I was fortunate enough to be asked by the Energy Regulators Regional Association (ERRA) to assess through a publication their 10 year anniversary. I approached it like I would any research project. And what I got was a great amount of interviews – 31 total, including interviews with 17 current and former head regulators from across Eastern Europe and the CIS countries. I decided to incorporate this into a journal article drawing on my theoretical research into governance (see my Energy Policy article on risk governance) – which is slanted towards the role that regulators play. Thus you get the emergence of a new global regulatory regime, sitting under regulatory capitalism. In short, there is a lot of connection with how I explored state structures in my PhD (2006) and how I still view the inner workings of the state.  Below is the abstract and if you follow this link, you can download the conference paper I wrote for the Ninth International Conference on European Energy Market.

I’m posting this with the hope that there is some feedback. But then I’ll add a whole host of disclaimers saying that the journal article will actually be clearer, more concise and will actually say what I’m trying to say in this first draft version. This conference paper didn’t allow much space, so things had to be cut and reduced – including the methodology. I really have to focus on what the reader expects to get out of the article and what the article demonstrates about transnational regulatory networks and the flows of knowledge within them. Any feedback can be sent to:

Diffusion of Regulatory Knowledge: A case study of transnational regulatory networks 

(conference paper available here)


In 2001, the Energy Regulators Regional Association (ERRA) was established in Budapest, Hungary to foster cooperation and education necessary for the leaders and the staff of new national regulatory authorities  (NRA) in Eastern Europe and in the Commonwealth of Independent States. This paper examines the diffusion of regulatory knowledge from the US and EU to ERRA members. The research is based on 31 interviews with current and past ERRA members, regulatory staff and individuals closely associated and knowledgeable about ERRA’s formation and its activities; seventeen of these were either current or former leaders of their respective regulatory institutions. This provides a theoretically grounded perspective of how regulatory knowledge is diffused to ERRA members. The rise of a new international regulatory regime – regulatory capitalism, supported by an approach of sectoral governance, is demonstrated to be intertwined with the global diffusion of NRAs and the establishment of best practices  reliant on a system of formal and informal learning and trust between regulators.

Skewing Geopolitics of Energy: US researchers mix French wine with Hungarian Goulash, producing gas

The potential of shale gas to alter the geopolitical landscape of energy is becoming too delicious to ignore. The recent report by researchers from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University determines that Russia will become a shriveled supplier to the European market by 2040. Russian exports  will only comprise 13% of the European gas mix, compared to 27% in 2009. The dramatic impact, as determined by the researchers, will be the scrapping of South Stream. Europe will thwart Russia’s energy weapon by utilizing the increased liquidity in the European and global gas market. The findings suggest that the overall impact on Europe, of exploited shale gas plays, will be a more secure and more US orientated Europe.

Will energy provide the context for a new Cold War between Russia and the US?


First, it must be stated that the authors do a robust job of developing a global model that accounts for the impact of gas extracted from shale formations. The model and the scenarios they develop do well to demonstrate the impact that recent interest into shale gas can have over the long term. In addition, expanding the analysis to consider the geopolitical ramifications is commendable. However, despite using a robust model that can adjust for regional differences, they fail to be more effective at setting up the scenarios and to account for present and future regional market and infrastructure conditions. This failure leads to wrong assumptions that may influence US foreign policy in relation to promoting shale gas technology and undermines support to the Nabucco gas pipeline project.

For this short analysis I’ll state there is a significant methodological problem that  skews how shale gas will liberate ‘Europe’ from the powerful clutches of Russia, thus enabling the Europeans to become more friendly with US foreign policy.

There are three scenarios the researchers provide that ‘demonstrate’ the impact of shale gas on the geopolitics of energy. In my own words these are:

  1. Everything global, shale gas is exploited from all countries globally
  2. Life in 2005, US shale from 2005 discoveries is used and no shale gas exploited outside the US
  3. Limited US/Everything global, US environmental  regional restrictions limit US output

Developing US foreign policy advice based on these limited and constrained scenarios only extends the distorted/neglected picture that US policy makers have on Europe, and more specifically Central Eastern Europe (CEE) and South East Europe (SEE). This is where my criticism lies. If the researchers are able to account for regional variations in the US, then surely, they can also develop a scenario where regional variations in Europe are accounted for. Painting Europe with a single brush obscures regional variations. In addition, a more limited global output of shale gas should be considered in an additional scenario, as this is certainly more realistic than the first two scenarios.

The high reliance of CEE countries on Russian oil and gas supplies means defining a single European market is deeply problematic. (This reliance does not exist in Western Europe). The future does indicate the integration of the European energy network along with gas diversification through LNG. These aspects will increase security of supply in the CEE/SEE region. However, they do not exclude the need for Nabucco, as this provides another avenue for energy diversification. The authors do not present these regional variations and dependency in Europe. The extremely high gas dependency of Hungary, Bulgaria and even Poland on Russia should not be mixed with Western European countries’ ability to tap other pipelines for their sources.

Regional variation is important to consider. Nabucco is primary meant to increase the gas diversification in the CEE/SEE region – which is highly reliant on Russian gas. Therefore, if the model can account for regional US variations it should also be able to provide a scenario that accounts for European variability and the impact shale gas will have within the CEE/SEE. This would be extremely useful to have and provide a more accurate picture of the future geopolitics of energy that weighs heavily on these regions.

Shale gas is no panacea for future energy developments, as I have written before. The conclusions in this report provide some good insight into what could happen with shale gas and its global impact. However, while the authors emphasis the benefits the US can incur by the spread of the US technology, their findings are limited by neglecting more effective regional analysis in Europe and globally. More effective policy advice could be given by accounting for regional variations, particularly over Europe’s Southern Gas Corridor and the future gas relations with Russia.

Postscript: for a longer and more developed review of the study, please visit Natural Gas for Europe, where I published a more in depth assessment of the report.


Latest journal article: Constructing Post-Carbon Institutions

For those that are bored this summer and looking for a good read, then I would recommend my latest submitted article for Energy Policy. It is almost book length and once you are done reading the fine prose, it can be recycled to start your campfire – it’s that long.


This paper examines three different governance approaches the European Union (EU) and Member States (MS) are relying on to reach a low carbon economy by 2050. Current governance literature explains the operational methods of the EU’s new governance approach to reduce carbon emissions. However, the literature neglects to account for the perceived risks that inhibit the roll-out of new low carbon technology. This article, through a novel approach, uses a grounded theoretical framework to reframe traditional risk literature and provides a connection to governance literature in order to assess the ability of EU governance mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions. The empirical research is based on responses from European energy stakeholders who participated in a Delfi method discussion and in semi-structured interviews; these identified three essential requirements for carbon emissions to be reduced to near zero by 2050: 1) an integrated European energy network, 2) carbon pricing, and 3) demand reduction. These features correspond to institutionalized responses by the EU and MS: the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER); European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and energy efficiency directives and policies integrated into existing MS institutions. The theoretical and empirical findings suggest that governance by facilitation (energy efficiency) fails to induce significant investment and new policy approaches and cannot be relied on to achieve requisite reductions in demand. Governance by negotiation (ACER) and governance by hierarchy (EU ETS) do reduce risks and may encourage the necessary technological uptake. The term ‘risk governance’ is proposed to explain the important role governance plays in reducing risks and advancing new technology and thereby lowering carbon emissions in the energy sector.

Download article

Results of the Southern Gas Corridor Survey

It has been long in the making, but the day has come to release the results of the Southern Gas Corridor Survey. The results expose some of the underlining reasons and the impact the proposed gas transit projects will have on security of supply in the countries of the Central Eastern and Southeast region of Europe. Much of the analysis looks at the reasoning and the impact of the Nabucco and South Stream projects. It also considers the role of LNG facilities and smaller gas transit projects of the Azerbaijan–Georgia–Romania Interconnector (AGRI), the Interconnector-Turkey-Greece-Italy (ITGI) and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

The online survey was conducted between November 2010 and January 2011. There was a total of 30 participants, but with 28 participants fully completing the survey.  This number is not particularly high, but it is a sufficient amount to give a general basis for understanding perceptions from energy industry personnel. Caution should be used when citing the results due to the open internet format used and the small sample size. However, respondents in this survey do represent an effective cross section of experts and countries.

I want to thank everyone that participated.  It is through the collective effort that we all gain a better understanding of the proposed projects that will contribute to increasing Europe’s energy security of supply.

Report: European Southern Gas Corridor Survey

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Critical Factors Shaping the Future Global Energy Landscape (and free drinks)

In keeping up with the theme of this blog, understanding the development of the energy sector – and the transition towards a post-carbon energy economy, I’m posting a notice for a very informative lecture over at CEU on Friday. Importantly, this is followed by a reception.
Central European University
Department of Public Policy
Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy
cordially invite you to attend a public lecture delivered by
Dr. Fatih Birol
Chief Economist, International Energy Agency
Critical Factors Shaping the Future Global Energy Landscape
Katalin Farkas, Professor of Philosophy, Provost/Academic Pro-Rector, CEU
Andreas Goldthau, Associate Professor, Public Policy, CEU
Date:    Friday, November 26, 2010
Time:  2:15 p.m.—4:00 p.m.
Venue: Auditorium (CEU, Nador u. 9)

Followed by a reception

Please RSVP to Katalin Lassu:

Fatih Birol is the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris. He oversees the annual World Energy Outlook, which is the flagship publication of the IEA and is recognized as the most authoritative source for energy analysis and projections in the world. Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards in recognition of his contribution to the energy debate. Fatih Birol was recently named by Forbes magazine as the world’s fourth most powerful person in terms of influence on the world’s energy scene. In 2009, alongside awards from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Polish Ministry of Economy, he was honored with the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2010 he was appointed Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Energy Advisory Board.