24th June 2014 Oslo, Norway
EU Energy Security, Green Growth & Partnership with Norway
Energy security and climate policies that support green growth are two sides of the same coin. Improving resilience and capacity on one side strengthens the other. As EU leaders gather this week to discuss these interlinked issues, the following is a review of the priorities that the British Government will bring to the table. Norway has been an indispensible partner on this agenda, and the UK values the strong energy-climate relationship with Norway, which supports Europe’s long-term energy security and low-carbon prosperity objectives.
Aiming High and Cost Effective
If we are to keep global warming in check at no more than 2 degrees, we need agreement for substantial cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. The UK calls for the EU 2030 Framework to include an emissions reduction target of at least 40% and a robust EU Emissions Trading Scheme with a strong carbon price. A high level of ambition should be coupled with a flexible approach that allows individual Member States to choose the most affordable pathways to decarbonisation. Binding national renewable and energy efficiency targets risk impeding national flexibility to develop a diversified, secure and sustainable energy mix in a cost-effective manner.
Europe needs to create the right investment climate to support individual Member States looking to develop their own indigenous sources of power including shale gas, renewables and nuclear where appropriate. The UK wants to avoid the introduction of legislation that would threaten to reduce such potential deployment. The development of coal reserves should only be encouraged in the context of plans for deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
Improving how the energy market works and facilitating priority infrastructure projects can help to ensure that EU gas supplies will flow to where it is most needed. The EU should increase its efforts to implement the single energy market, primarily through accelerating the development of network and market codes and the strict enforcement of the liberalisation packages. The UK strongly supports the Commission’s list of high-priority Projects of Common Interest included in its European Energy Security Strategy. The EU should also urgently explore ways to remove potential barriers to private sector investment in EU energy infrastructure.
Making progress on infrastructure includes more electricity interconnection across Europe. The Nordic Baltic region is a good example of how better integrated power systems create benefits such as greater competition and enhanced security of supply. British electricity networks will need to connect large amounts of renewable and other low-carbon generation within the next decade. Currently, Great Britain has 4GW of interconnection (2GW with France, 1GW with the Netherlands, 500MW with Northern Ireland, and 500MW with the Republic of Ireland), and there are several projects in the pipeline including with Norway. Connecting markets will support energy security as well as our objectives for decarbonisation and more affordable energy supplies.
Partnership with Norway
As we shape the energy-climate framework for Europe, we are fortunate to have Norway as a trusted neighbour. Norwegian gas is the second largest source of external supply to the EU. Norway has proven to be a reliable supplier with a stable, democratic government that neither uses gas exports as a political tool nor interferes in commercial arrangements.
The UK values the gas trade relationship with Norway and wants it to extend over the long term. We see a clear continuing role for Norwegian gas as part of EU plans for diversification of external suppliers. The UK is in favour of linking future gas production from the Barents and Norwegian Seas to Europe via pipeline. The resource base in this area is still uncertain, but it could possibly deliver an extra 25bcm of gas from the 2020s.
Offshore innovation is another area where cooperation with Norway has supported our shared objectives for green growth and energy security. Norway is a leading partner with the UK in developing new technology solutions for the North Sea to maximise safe recovery of oil and gas resources in mature areas. In terms of renewable energy, Norwegian companies are among the top investors in the UK offshore wind sector. Plans are well underway to build the world’s longest sub-sea electricity cable between the UK and Norway, which is another example of how our partnership is delivering mutual benefits for security of supply and low-carbon prosperity.
Posted by Mark Burnett, Senior Energy and Climate Change Advisor