The Nordic ministers for energy met in Helsinki on 24 November to discuss topics including the need for a vision for Nordic co-operation on energy, spurred by Jorma Ollila’s strategic review of the co-operation. At the meeting, Ollila presented a preliminary report on his work. In addition the ministers discussed the challenges facing the Nordic electricity market, increased co-operation between Nordic players, and co-operation in EU processes.
The Icelandic and Finnish Ministers for Energy, Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir and Olli Rehn, stressed the importance of closer Nordic co-operation on energy at the meeting in Helsinki
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the common Nordic electricity market – the world’s most advanced cross-border electricity market. However, even this well-integrated Nordic co-operation on energy faces great challenges ahead.
As part of the efforts to tackle these challenges, the Nordic ministers for energy appointed Finnish businessman Jorma Ollila to conduct a strategic review of energy co-operation. The ministers received Ollila’s preliminary report at Thursday’s meeting. The final report is due to be published in the spring of 2017 during Norway’s presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers.
In view of the Nordic countries’ ambitious national climate and energy policy objectives and the EU’s plans for an energy union, the Nordic ministers for energy noted that the Nordic countries need to define a new vision for Nordic co-operation on energy.
“This vision should contain clear strategic objectives for co-operation over the next decade, a decade in which the transition to green energy will enter a very challenging phase. We need concrete measures that create better opportunities for distributing electricity in a way that will allow the Nordic Region to establish a common market for renewable energy that serves Nordic consumers effectively and reliably,” says the Finnish Minister for Energy, Olli Rehn.
The ministers agreed that the vision should have a clear focus on establishing Nordic positons of strength and Nordic methods for identifying common challenges. The vision should also seek to develop solutions for how best to profile Nordic qualities in the global transition to green energy as a result of the Paris agreement. Furthermore, the vision should safeguard Nordic influence in the EU and energy union, including within regional forums where there is Nordic participation.
At their meeting, the ministers also discussed the challenges facing the electricity market as a result of the rapidly increasing share of intermittent power generation and the closure of nuclear and other thermal power sources. The action plan that system and transmission companies are working on, which will be completed in 2017, is a crucial and concrete element in the development of the market.
The challenges faced by the electricity market can in part be alleviated by an increase in consumer activity in the market. Increased customer activity would not only result in a more efficient market, but also an improved ability to handle power peaks and increased environmental benefits. The co-operative body of the Nordic regulators, NordREG, will look in more detail at matters affecting demand flexibility over the coming year.
The ministers noted that a key aspect of the successful Nordic electricity market is the effective co-operation between the Nordic system and transmission companies, the authorities, and industry associations. This co-operation should be developed further in light of the upcoming EU processes to ensure the efficient operation of our resources and sufficient investment in transmission capacity both between and within the individual Nordic countries.
In 2017, TSOs (transmission and system operators) will present a comprehensive Nordic investment plan. The ministers look forward to discussing the TSOs’ package of joint-priority projects at their meeting next year.
The meeting continued with the energy ministers discussing the EU energy union which came into effect last year. The ministers exchanged information on future proposals and discussed co-operation at the Nordic level within the framework of the union.
The following action plan for Nordic co-operation on energy policy is being prepared as part of the Norwegian presidency in 2017. This is where the strategic review can offer a good starting point. Norway is seeking to prioritise the joint Nordic follow-up of the EU’s “winter package”, in which the Nordic Region has common interests, and the energy union. In addition Norway will draw attention to the fact that all of the Nordic countries have presented or will present their national climate and energy policy documents.