The Nordics have solutions for a fossil-free future

03.03.21 | News
Vindmøller i Øresund
Photographer
Sigurður Ólafsson/norden.org
Nordic solutions are the right way to go to achieve fossil-free energy production. These were the words of the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, at a webinar organised by the Nordic Council. During the webinar, there was broad consensus that future energy challenges demand more co-operation. However, there was also a warning of the risk that the Nordic electricity market is headed in a more national direction.

The aim of the webinar was to give the members of the Nordic Council and representatives from the EU an opportunity to share their experiences about future energy solutions, and to identify the next steps in the transition to fossil-free energy production.

Both the Nordic countries and the EU have set their sights high when it comes to the climate. A transition to renewable and sustainable energy production is an important element in this.

Much praise for the Nordics

At the webinar, European Commissioner Kadri Simson pointed to the Nordic Region as a model for regional co-operation on energy in the EU. She began by addressing a question in the headline of the webinar: are Nordic solutions the right way to go to achieve a fossil-free future? Her answer was short and clear.

“Yes, Nordic solutions are the right way to go.”

Simson praised the Nordic electricity market in particular, which she called a success. She cited security of supply and the solution to the issue of integrating renewable energy into Nordic systems as just two of several success factors.

“I can only encourage you to continue what you are doing and to lead by example,” said Simson in her address to the Nordic countries.  

    The Nordic Region as inspiration

    Chair of the Nordic Council Committee for Growth and Development, Pyry Niemi, also mentioned Nordic co-operation on energy as an inspiration to others.

    “In the Nordic Region we are pleased to be in this favourable position with interconnected electricity networks and a common market for electricity, called North Pool. It is an instrument that we are using effectively in the much needed energy transformation. The organisation of the system has been proven to be robust and easily expanded, supported by political will and vision. This positive experience could serve as an inspiration in other parts of Europe,” said Niemi.

      Challenges exist

      Director of the energy group Fortum, Simon-Erik Ollus, mentioned the many benefits that the common electricity market has given people in the Nordic Region. However, he also pointed out that the market was created 25 years ago in completely different circumstances to today.

      In his view, we now face new challenges. There is a risk that development is headed more towards national electricity markets in the Nordic Region, which would wipe out all the benefits so far gained from the common electricity market.

      Ollus therefore feels that we’re at a crossroads, and that stronger Nordic political governance on energy and climate policy is now needed.

      “But this requires a degree of political willingness in the Nordic capitals,” said Ollus.

      Huge opportunities at sea

      One of the issues raised by Morten Petersen, Vice Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, was energy production at sea. He said that the Nordics have huge opportunities in the North Sea and Baltic Sea to, “in theory” produce hydrogen and power-to-X on a large scale for the transport industry. A prerequisite of this is aligning the interests of fishing, defence, and shipping, among other areas.

      “It may sound simple, but in reality it’s extremely difficult. If we in the Nordic Region could take this a step further and use joint planning and agreements on biodiversity and the climate in relation to our oceans, we could really show the way for others, perhaps even globally,” Petersen said.

      Model for Europe

      In her final comments, EU parliamentarian and member of the committee for industry, research, and industry, Henna Virkkunen, mentioned Nordic co-operation on energy as a model for how Europe can become more self-sufficient in terms of energy in the future.

      “As part of efforts to complete the EU energy union and reduce the EU’s dependence on external energy, especially from Russia, we should be inspired by Nordic co-operation,” said Virkkunen.

       

      The Nordic Council organised the webinar “Towards a fossil-free future – are the Nordic solutions the right way to go?” on 2 March. The webinar consisted of two parts – the first on energy: “Session on the transition to fossil-free energy supply”, and the second on the electricity market: “Session on the development of cross-border electricity markets”. Members of the Nordic Council, EU parliamentarians, the European Commission, and external experts all took part in the webinar.

      Post-broadcast

      Watch the broadcast from the event here: