Focus on Finland: the Energy Union tour
European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič today (12 October) arrives in Finland for the Energy Union tour. The Energy Union is the EU's strategy to ensure that European citizens have access to secure, affordable and clean energy.
Ahead of his visit, Vice-President Šefčovič said:
I am pleased to see that Finland has already made excellent progress towards its energy efficiency and renewables targets for 2020 and is demonstrating its potential to be a leader in clean energy innovation. In addition, I look forward to discussing the Baltic Connector pipeline, which is scheduled to be operational by 2020 and is partly funded by the EU's Connecting Europe Facility. It will end Finland's gas isolation and lead to a more competitive wholesale and retail gas, in addition to enhancing the region's security of supply.
Finland's energy mix includes a much higher share of renewable energy (33% vs 13%) and a higher share of nuclear energy (19% vs 14%) than the average for the EU as a whole. Finland's electricity generation is almost 80% carbon free and it has already exceeded its renewables target for 2020. 22% of the energy used in its transport sector comes from renewable sources – well above the current 10% target for all EU countries.
The country imports less energy (in proportion to its energy needs) than the EU average, but it still imports almost all of its natural gas and oil, mainly from Russia. The planned BalticConnector pipeline, to which the EU's Connecting Europe Facility is contributing funding, will connect Finland with Estonia and make it possible for gas to flow between Finland and the Baltic states. This will give Finland access to gas from a wider range of suppliers and increase energy security in the region.
Finnish industrial policy has embraced low-carbon innovation strategies. Finland invests more per unit of GDP in Energy Union related research and innovation than any other EU country.
During his visit, the Vice-President will meet Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister for Housing, Energy and the Environment, and members of the EU Committee of the Finnish Parliament. He will also join a roundtable discussion on the Energy Union with representatives of the Finnish energy industry and visit a biorefinery run by the company UPM in the town of Lappeenranta. Here he will also take part in a Citizens' Dialogue. During his visit, discussions will be focused on the Energy Union, the financial instruments it will make available to Finland to support development activities and energy innovation, and the country's national energy and climate plan. Ongoing improvements to energy interconnection infrastructure in the Nordic and Baltic regions will also be on the agenda.
As part of the 2017 Energy Union Tour, the Vice-President has already visited the Netherlands, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Portugal, Estonia, Belgium, Romania and France. Upcoming dates and more information on the 2017 Energy Union tour are available here.