04 | 2006
European energy policy creates demand for bioenergy innovations
The EU Member States have recognized the need for a joint energy policy. Climate change, energy reliability and boosting European competitiveness pose major challenges to the energy sector, which also takes them seriously. The Finnish EU presidency offered a natural opportunity for promoting the creation of a joint European energy policy. Finland is one of the most technologically advanced countries globally, and the bioenergy potential in proportion to the population is among the highest in the world. The Nordic countries have also set an encouraging example when it comes to energy cooperation. Thanks to a joint electricity market, electricity prices in the Nordic region are lower than in most other countries.
The EU Member States find it important to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy at both the national and EU level. This is also the clear message from the European Commission. The introduction of biofuels for transport is regarded as an opportunity to improve fuel self-sufficiency and even reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Although current first-generation biofuels only bring about relatively moderate reductions in emissions, they play an important role in the creation of the biofuels market. Focus and research investments have already shifted to second-generation biofuels.
As an example of potential new business concepts, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland proposes that biofuel production could be integrated with production activities in the forestry industry. This would seem to offer an opportunity for low-cost production of second-generation biofuels without risking the supply of raw material for the forestry industry. New production technologies can even cut the additional cost of biofuels by half. In Finland, raw material supplies would allow an energy share of up to 20% by 2020. With these visions, which are based on research and expertise, VTT and Finland will encourage the other Member States.
- Kai Sipilä
- Vice President, Strategic Research
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