The BSPC Working Group on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency held its inaugural meeting in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm on 12 December 2011. The meeting was led by the WG Chairman Ms Cecilie Tenfjord-Toftby, Sweden. Expert presentations were provided by Ms Mia Crawford, CBSS/Baltic 21, and Mr Fredrik von Malmborg, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, Sweden. The meeting was primarily devoted to initial discussions about the mandate, scope and priorities of the WG, recognizing that the overarching mission of the Group is to elaborate political recommendations on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency, and to bring an added political value from the parliamentary side to the process of creating sustainable growth in the Baltic Sea Region.
The Working Group convened its second meeting in Helsinki on 2 March 2012. The overall theme of the meeting was “Measuring Energy Efficiency”. The WG made study visits to the Katri Vala Heating and Cooling Plant, the Nordic Investment Bank, and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation. Briefings were given by Mr Pekka Sauri, Deputy Mayor of the City of Helsinki, Mr Juhani Aaltonen and Mr Marko Riipinen, Helsinki Energy, and by Mr Johan Ljungberg, Senior Director, Head of Environment, NiB, and Mr Magnus Rystedt, Managing Director, Nefco. The meeting was opened with two expert presentations: Energy Efficiency as a Strategic Tool to Meet Energy, Climate and Economic Challenges in the Baltic Sea Region by Professor Peter Lund, Aalto University, and EU Energy Efficiency Legislation by Mr Patrick Matschoss, PhD, University of Oldenburg, Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
The Working Group held its third meeting in Riga on 8 June 2012. The themes of the meeting were “Green business opportunities” and “Green public procurement”.On top of the agenda was the mid-way report and the political recommendations of the Working Group, to be presented at the 21st Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in St Petersburg 26-28 August. The meeting appointed Tony Asumaa, Åland Islands, as Vice Chairperson of the Working Group. Expert presentations were delivered by Mr Valdis Bisters, Director of the Climate Policy and Technology Departments of the Latvian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Developments, Mr Lauri Tammiste, Estonian Development Fund, Director, Energy and Green Economy, and Mr Hannes Mädo, Estonian Ministry of the Environment, Member of Directorate. The meeting was preceded by a study visit to Getlini ECO, which is a high-tech and environmental friendly ecological waste management company.
The challenge of converting wind energy into hydrogen and then to electricity was one of the key items on the agenda of the fourth meeting in the BSPC Working Group on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency, which was held in Berlin on 12 October 2012. The WG made a study tour to a hybrid power plant in Prenzlau operated by ENERTRAG, where it was given a briefing by Mr Werner Diwald. The power company operates 500 wind-turbines in Germany, France and the UK. One of the tasks of ENERTRAG is to convert and store wind energy so it can be used flexibly when and where it is needed. For this purpose the company is developing technology to transform wind energy into hydrogen. The hybrid power plant in Prenzlau/Brandenburg is a pilot project for this purpose. Similar projects are on-going in other countries, including Norway and Iceland where some hydrogen stations have been established, but using other renewable energy sources. The WG was also provided with presentations on the German energy transition by Mr Olaf Weber, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, and Mr Roman Zurhold, the German Energy Agency. The WG meeting was hosted by WG member Torsten Staffeldt, German Bundestag.
The technologies for CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) are evolving, but it is necessary to develop their commercial viability. The fifth meeting of the BSPC Working Group on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency took place at the CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad, Norway, which is the world’s largest facility for testing and improving CO2 capture. Expert briefings were made by Vian Smith, TCM, and Eva Halland, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. The WG released the following statement:
Climate change is a serious threat to the development and prosperity of human society. According to a new report published by the World Bank, theaverage global temperature could increase by 4 degrees during this century, causing a sea level rise of over 1 meter. The effects would be disastrous. Fossil fuels, the major source of CO2 emissions, are expected to remain the dominant energy source for the foreseeable future. The risk of failure in reaching the goal to stop global warming at 2 degrees Celsius is looming. There is an imminent need to reduce the dependency of fossil fuels, extend the use of renewable fuels, and curb the emissions of climate gases. One important method for this is CO2 capture and storage (CCS). CCS technologies are evolving, but must become commercially viable within a few years. The availability and utilization of CCS depends not only on the technology itself, but also on political and financial incentives to implement the technologies. Currently, the price of CO2 is too low to function as an attractive economic incentive. The functioning of the European Trading System needs to be strengthened in order to support investments, development and implementation of new and sustainable energy technologies. The BSPC Working Group on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency recognises and commends the importance of the CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) in Bergen in developing new and innovative CCS technologies. Furthermore, it welcomes the important initiatives taken by TCM to form an international test centre network for carbon CCS facilities around the world, in order to share knowledge to accelerate the productization and commercialisation of CCS technologies.
The 6th and final meeting of the WG was convened in the island of Bornholm on 9-11 June 2013. The citizens, politicians, public administration and enterprises of Bornholm have made dedicated and combined efforts to turn Bornholm into a 100% sustainable and carbon-free community by 2025, including local, sustainable and eco-friendly solutions for growth and new businesses. Expert presentations were given by Mette Tiensuu on “Bright Green Island”, by Camilla Sandfeldt on “Green Construction”, by Per Boesen on “Electric Cars in Bornholm”, by Winni Grosbøll, Mayor on Bornholm, on “Political Aspects on Bright Green Island”, and by Maxi Nachtigall from CBSS/Baltic 21 on Greening the Economy of the Baltic Sea Region”. The Working Group also made study visits to the ecogrid-demonstration house “Villa Smart” with a presentation by Maja Bendtsen, and to the “Vasagaard”, a sustainable forest pig farm. The WG meeting was primarily devoted to thorough deliberations over the WG Final report, which was presented at the 22nd BSPC in Pärnu on 25-27 August 2013. The Working Group issued the following statement from the meeting:
In order to meet the challenges of tomorrow, a transformation to more environmentally sustainable economies is needed in the Baltic Sea Region. The BSPC Working Group on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency has been established by the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference to develop policy recommendations that support that goal.
At its meeting on the island of Bornholm 10-11 June 2013, the Working Group has learned how the public, businesses and politicians have designed and implemented a vision for sustainable development in an islands community of some 40.000 people. “Bornholm – Bright Green Island” is a visionary as well as a practical instrument, which has brought about a positive development for the people of Bornholm. It can serve as useful example for the Baltic Sea Region in how to use limited natural resources sustainably. As a test centre for new technologies, Bornholm will also serve the wider European and Global community in identifying solutions that increase energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy.
The “Bornholm Bright Green Island” initiative illustrates the importance of having a broad based political support and to engage the public and the business community to support a transformation in the economy. The significance of awareness-raising
The BSPC Working Group on Green Growth and Energy Efficiency commends the effort made by the Municipal and Regional Authorities of Bornholm, the businesses community and the public at large, and encourages other communities around the Baltic Sea to use the experiences in Bornholm as a source of inspiration.
The meeting also agreed to issue a statement on the recently introduced EU Tariffs on Chinese solar panels:
Tariffs on Solar Panels will Delay the Introduction of Green Technologies: The necessary transformation to a sustainable growth and improved energy efficiency requires easily available and affordable technologies and equipment for renewable energy generation, both in households and in enterprises. It is important to promote international cooperation on research and development on green technologies, and to find efficient models for manufacturing, trade and marketing that lowers the cost for the end consumers. The decision by the European Commission to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels (PV) is a step in the wrong direction. It constitutes an unfortunate protectionist measure that will reduce the availability of solar panels in the European market, increase the costs of the conversion to more sustainable energy systems, and delay the introduction of green technologies on a broad scale. The tariffs will therefore hamper the conversion to a greener society. Although the Commission claims that this is an anti-dumping measure, the tariffs will have negative consequences for the EU 2020 goals. This also underlines the importance of China joining the WTO and contributing constructively to the establishment of a level playing field and fair conditions for international trade.
Cecilie Tenfjord-Toftby, MP, Chairperson of the Working Group, Swedish Riksdag
Tony Asumaa, MP, Vice Chairperson of the Working Group, Åland Islands Lagting
Karin Gaardsted, MP, Danish Folketing
Christina Gestrin, MP, Finnish Riksdag
Mariusz Orion Jedrysek, MP, Polish Sejm
Siri Meling, MP, Norwegian Storting
Oleg Nilov, MP, State Duma of the Russian Federation
Jochen Schulte, MP, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Landtag
Maxim Shingarkin, MP, State Duma of the Russian Federation
Torsten Staffeldt, MP, German Bundestag
Sabine Steppat, MP, Hamburg Bürgerschaft
Ingela Nylund Watz, MP, Swedish Riksdag
Wille Valve, MP, Åland Islands Lagting, Nordic Council Committee on Business and Industry
Raimonds Vejonis, MP, Latvian Saeima
Points of Contact for the Working Group:
Mr Tryggvi Felixson
Nordic Council Environment and Natural Resources Committee
Ved Stranden 18
Phone +45 33 960 453
Mr Jan Widberg
Head of BSPC Secretariat
C/o Nordic Council
Ved Stranden 18
Phone +45 24 699 446