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Nordic Energy Forum 2019: Accelerating the energy transition by innovating and engaging consumers

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“There can be no successful energy transition without social involvement and public acceptance,” stated Dr. Angela Wilkinson, Secretary General of the World Energy Council, at the Nordic Energy Forum 2019 at the Old Student House in Helsinki on Tuesday.

Dr Angela Wilkinson, the next Secretary General of the World Energy Council presented scenarios of the future of energy at the Nordic Eergy Forum 2019 in Helsinki. Photo Mauri Ratilainen
Dr Angela Wilkinson, the next Secretary General of the World Energy Council presented scenarios of the future of energy at the Nordic Eergy Forum 2019 in Helsinki. Photo Mauri Ratilainen

Dr. Wilkinson holds a PhD in Physics and was previously Senior Director, Scenarios and Business Insights, before being appointed the next Secretary General of the World Energy Council at its 24th Congress this September in Abu Dhabi, where the latest scenarios for the world’s energy systems were presented under her leadership.

At the Nordic Energy Forum, she pointed out that digitalisation offers many opportunities for prosperity, but that it also presents challenges.

“We need new capabilities for governing dynamic resilience to respond rapidly and flexibly also to unforeseen climate and cybersecurity challenges, as well as to enable a reliable and sustainable energy transition,” Dr. Wilkinson says.

Challenges within Europe include funding investements for energy systems. The World Energy Council sees Integrated energy-industrial strategies and sector-coupling policies pivotal to faster, deeper and affordable decarbonisation.

EU seeks fair and sustainable climate neutrality

Artur Runge-Metzger, Director, Climate Strategy, Directorate-General for Climate Action, European Commission, proposed various pathways towards a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. The climate strategy that was presented last year aims to ensure an economically feasible and socially just transition towards a climate-neutral society. The strategy also seeks to foster the competitiveness of the EU economy and companies in global markets.

Runge-Metzger acknowledges that achieving these aims will be challenging, but he believes that they are still achievable.

“Moving towards a net-zero greenhouse gas economy can only be successful with citizens that embrace change, get engaged and experience it as beneficial for their lives and that of their children,” he emphasises.

According to Runge-Metzger, both personal lifestyle choices and Improved planning and public infrastructure can have a real impact on combating climate change while at the same time improving the quality of life. He also sees opportunities to strengthen the role of regions and cities and towns in order to accelerate the changes sought in the EU.

Paula Pinho, Acting Director in Directorate A, Energy Policy, European Commission, presented the EU’s national energy and climate plans covering all sectors. For the first time each country is obligated to report on its current status and goals in five dimensions, from energy efficiency to the share of renewable energy.

“All 28 countries submitted their draft plans within the timeframe. Although none of them were perfect, all of the plans had good practices that could be recommended to other Member States,” Pinho clarifies.

Nordic energy markets as a model for the rest of the world

Markus Hübner, Chair of the Electricity Market Group at the Nordic Council of Ministers, envisioned the Nordic region as the world’s most competitive, innovative and consumer-oriented electricity market. The Nordic countries already serve as an example for the rest of the world in generating carbon-free electricity. In addition, the Nordic countries together with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania already share a common electricity exchange owned by their national grids.

“There still remains plenty to do, especially in strengthening electricity transmission links and coordinating Data Hub cooperation, for example,” Hübner points out.

Demand for electricity is expected to continue to increase as a result of, among other things, growth of population and continued construction, the electrification of traffic and energy intensive data centres, and Sweden is already experiencing shortages of electricity. The need for time- and capital-intensive network investments was confirmed in a panel discussion, in which Maria Wetterstrand, Managing Director of Miltton Purpose, Jouni Haikarainen, Senior Vice President at Gasum, and Tiina Tuomela, Executive Vice President at Fortum Corporation, concluded that the starting points for the Nordic region were otherwise in many regards good.

Room for improvement was also noted in the pan-Nordic electricity retail market, as well as in more consumer-oriented price information that would guide consumption in a meaningful way. Harmonising regulatory requirements in different countries, for example through the Nordic Council of Ministers, would allow for faster innovation across the region.

The second Nordic Energy Forum to be held in Helsinki is taking place on 29-30 October 2019, offering decision-makers and experts the opportunity to meet and discuss topical issues, as well as share their views on future energy scenarios, policy choices, markets, innovations and business models. The second day of the forum will look at the Northern European gas markets, innovative technologies and new business opportunities.

World Energy Council

The World Energy Council is the principal impartial network of leaders and practitioners promoting an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy system for the greatest benefit of all. Formed in 1923, the WEC is a UN-accredited global energy body representing the entire energy spectrum, with over 3000 member organisations in over 90 countries representing governments, private and state corporations, academia, NGOs and energy stakeholders. We inform global, regional and national energy strategies by hosting high-level events – including the World Energy Congress – and publishing authoritative studies. We work through our extensive member network to facilitate the world’s energy policy dialogue.

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Contacts

Helena Kivi-Koskinen
Executive Director
World Energy Council Finland
helena.kivi-koskinen@wecfinland.fi
Tel. +358 50 314 2955
Eteläranta 10, 00130 Helsinki

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Dr Angela Wilkinson, the next Secretary General of the World Energy Council presented scenarios of the future of energy at the Nordic Eergy Forum 2019 in Helsinki. Photo Mauri Ratilainen
Dr Angela Wilkinson, the next Secretary General of the World Energy Council presented scenarios of the future of energy at the Nordic Eergy Forum 2019 in Helsinki. Photo Mauri Ratilainen
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