Speech at the ”BSPC-CBSS-BASREC Seminar on Energy Efficiency in the Baltic Sea Region, 4.3.2014, Helsinki

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Distinguished Parliamentarians, Ladies and Gentlemen


It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to Helsinki and to this seminar on Energy Efficiency in the Baltic Sea Region. I would also like to thank the organizers for the possibility to open this Seminar as the current Chair of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

This event is a joint effort of the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, and the BASREC, the Baltic Sea Energy Cooperation. The seminar is a good example of close and effective cooperation and enhanced coherence between various stakeholders in order to advance common regional objectives. 

Finland places great importance on the work of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC). The interaction between the CBSS and the BSPC has long traditions, but during the Finnish Presidency of the CBSS we have tried to further increase the connections. The implementation of the BSPC’s resolution on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency is part of our CBSS Presidency Program.   

The Finnish CBSS Presidency is working on the basis of three guiding principles:  coherence, cooperation and continuity.  There are several cooperation mechanism and frameworks in our region. Our aim is to further enhance regional cooperation and coherence among the different actors, namely the four regional councils, the Northern Dimension structures, and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. 

The Northern Dimension provides a useful framework for policy dialogue concerning regional cooperation between the EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland, covering both the Baltic Sea and Barents region. The Northern Dimension partnerships have turned out to be good tools for implementing concrete cooperation projects.  I am pleased to see that the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership is also represented at today’s Seminar.

As the CBSS President we are also aiming to have closer collaboration with organizations like HELCOM, especially in advancing common goalsrelated tosustainable development. A good example of this is the maritime sector, which is one of the priorities of the Finnish CBSS Presidency. Our focus is especially on clean shipping.  In this connection we have coordinated efforts, together with HELCOM and the Baltic Development Forum, to create ”Green Technology and Alternative Fuels Platform for Shipping”. This issue was developed further in January by private and public maritime stakeholders, as well as actors from research and finance at the Seminar held on board of the LNG-fuelled passage shipViking Grace. I hope that the process will lead to some concrete results.     

The need to improve communication and connection between the different cooperation structures and stakeholders is particularly mentioned as an important goal in our CBSS Presidency program.  Likewise, we have highlighted the need to improve the implementation of the CBSS priorities, strategies and results of the various projects.   

Finland has paid special attention also to the issue of implementation of the CBSS priorities, strategies and results of the various projects. In this regard I very much appreciate the efforts of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference to improve national and regional implementation of the resolutions adopted at their annual Conferences.  

The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference is active in many fields and there are several connections to the work of the CBSS.  Green technology and energy efficiency is one of them. I would like to commend the BSPC and the Working Group on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency for their valuable work and for the substantive final report.  This report, besides the important work done within the BASREC, has been the basis for organizing this Seminar.     

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Council of the Baltic Sea States has been active in the field of sustainable development for several years. Green growth and green economy as well as energy efficiency are high on the agenda of the CBSS Expert Group on Sustainable Development, the Baltic 21.  

This is as it should be, given that the world as a whole has only a few decades time in which to reach ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development. This has, therefore, to be centrally on all of agendas: global, regional, national and local.

Today’s seminar topic on energy efficiency is extremely important. The Baltic Sea Region, including the North-West part of Russia, has a total population of more than 160 million people with an aggregated gross electricity consumption of approximately 1,300 TWh (tera-watt hours). In comparison, this corresponds to close to 40 per cent of the total electricity demand in the EU.

The Baltic Sea Region is comprised of countries with different economies and characteristics.  Hydropower is an important source of electricity generation in some countries. Biomass resources are significant throughout the region, deriving from both agricultural residues and large forested areas. Wind power already contributes considerably to electricity generation in countries such as Denmark and Germany, and is likely to play a much greater role in the region in the years to come, both onshore and offshore. In the longer term (2030 and beyond), solar power and geothermal energy could also provide notable contributions to the overall energy supply.

According to a scenario analysis made in a BASREC study the share of renewable energy in electricity generation increases from to 50 % in 2050. It is also an underlying assumption of the study that strong energy efficiency measures are put in place in all countries in the region to curb the demand for energy.

The Baltic Sea Region has a strong potential to develop a low-carbon energy economy. The region is endowed with vast natural resources in terms of biomass, wind and hydro power potential, and through its industrial and administrative capacities it holds the technology and knowledge base needed for a low-carbon transformation.

Overall energy demand is expected to decrease while the consumption of electricity in the region is assumed to increase only slightly through to 2050. Electricity is expected to increase its role in a number of end-uses: a shift towards electrification of the transport sector, increasing utilization of electricity in efficient heat pumps and for process energy in industry.

Energy efficiency is by far the most important tool in responding to challenges of energy and climate policies. There is need for strong efforts to improve energy efficiency in the Baltic Sea region, e.g. through sharing and identifying best national practices. Heating is of great importance in this respect. There is a great potential for savings by renovating extending district heating grids and by increasing use of combined heat and power generation (CHP). District heating also offers consumers a high level of security of supply as multiple fuels may be used for its generation.

Dear participants of the seminar,

Before concluding I would like to go back to the Finnish Presidency of the CBSS and mention the various events to be organized in the City Turku during the first week of June 2014.   Finland will host the 10th Baltic Sea Summit which will hopefully gather most of the Prime Ministers of the Baltic Sea Region together for discussions on topical issues related to the region. 

We are organizing the Summit very much in the spirit of coherence, recognizing that we are all facing similar challenges.  Parallel to the Summit the Annul forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea region, the Baltic Development Forum, as well as the NGO Forum will be held in Turku.  We expect at least around 800 participants to attend the various events during the Baltic Sea Days in Turku.

I wish you all a very successful seminar and fruitful discussions.   After the discussions it is important to focus on implementation and put into action the good results gained and lessons learned.