Editor's note

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Monday, 10.12.2018, 15:26

Modern clean energy for the Baltics

Eugene Eteris, European Studies Faculty, RSU, BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 04.12.2018.Print version

Electricity from renewables and other sustainable sources is a must for the Baltic States. It’s time to turn from imported commodities and use finances for other urgent peoples’ needs. Therefore, better policies for better lives!

The end of this year is witnessing a number of the European Commission’s initiatives focusing the EU member states on taking urgent measures for the transition to “clean energy” sources in national economies within next 12 years, i.e. up to 2030.


The EU energy policy –among other things- has been concentrated on reducing harmful emissions, i.e. making emission reductions of around 60% by 2050, as a contribution to the Paris Agreement's temperature goals. It’s important, of course, but not sufficient enough: the member states have to go implement a “climate neutral Europe” concept.  


Climate change is already affecting European region: e.g. extreme heat waves in four of the last five years; recent weather-related disasters cost the EU states about € 283 bn in economic damages, according to Eurostat.

Towards climate neutrality

Major steps towards climate neutrality could have definite economic advantages: thus, Baltic States’ national strategies for necessary economic and societal transformation are deemed to involve several development sectors, which could lead to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


The EU has identified seven strategic building blocks/scenarios that can pave the way towards a climate neutral economy: the energy sector is central in the proper path as it accounts for over 75% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions.


See more on scenarios in:

http://www.baltic-course.com/eng/modern_eu/?doc=145570&ins_print

 

For instance, by maximising the deployment of renewables and making them the backbone of the states’ power system, the states can have over 80% of electricity coming from renewables by 2050. These efforts will have to be prioritized as they will pay off and bring down fossil fuel imports in the Baltics and the whole EU from 55% to 20%. That will save about € 2-3 trillion after 2030.


Therefore, instead of paying third countries for fossil energy resources, the states have to invest into modern, cleaner industry, which after all provides high quality employment. The Baltic States have to step up renovation of residential and office buildings and heat them with renewable energy, instead of polluting air with fossil fuels. Thus the priority in Latvia, for example, would be to turn all households’ stoves from gas to electricity; it’s going to be a costly but necessary endeavor.


Another aspect in the renewable electricity is a combination of green batteries and other alternative fuels for powering bikes, buses, cars and/or trains. This will both bring people cleaner air and facilitate industrial development.


The Baltics’ industry has to be de-carbonised; and again, it will require investment into more electrification, use of hydrogen, biomass and renewable synthetic fuels. 


All of these measures will need necessary changes in the Baltics’ infrastructure, for instance in smart electricity and data grids, smart charging, including vehicle-to-grid technology.


However, the “green electricity” efforts would have a positive social effect: suffice it to say that “green jobs” in the EU-27, according to the Commission, would amount to 4 million. For some economy sectors, the transition can be difficult and the states would need to invest massively into up-skilling.

 

The economy’s modernisation: a priority

The key to success it that the Baltic States have to priorotise major transformations in all national economic sectors – in industry, transport , energy and  agriculture with adequate innovation, finances, circular economy, trade and manufacturing.


With the idea of integrating various sectors into “modern economy and energy”, the states have to break walls among sectors during this transformation towards climate neutrality.


This will require significant additional investment, in the Commission’s estimation it would be about € 175 to 290 bn per year in order to achieve a net European zero greenhouse gas economy.


However, the efforts will bring same savings too: the states will be saving money on fossil fuel imports, energy efficiency, health expenditure from air pollution or the circular economy.

Moreover, the EU states have already proven that it was possible to provide growth and cut emissions at the same time: e.g. from 1990 to 2017, energy use was reduced in the EU by 2%, greenhouse gas emissions by 22%, while the EU’s GDP grew by 58%.


Besides, the global economy is already transforming in the “green direction”; so the Baltic States would join the club by having strategies which would put them among the leaders in innovation.

One thing is already clear: the future progress both in Europe and the Baltic States needs long-term planning oriented to modern energy policies, in general, and to efficient use of electricity, in particular.


Reference: Long-term strategy: press conference by Maroš Šefčovič in:

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-18-6604_en.htm?locale=en/28.xi.2018.  

 

 





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