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21. september 2007 Atvinnuvega- og nýsköpunarráðuneytiðBjörgvin G. Sigurðsson, iðnaðar- og viðskiptaráðherra 2007-2009

Viðskiptaráðherra í opinberri heimsókn Forseta Íslands til Rúmeníu.

H.E President of Iceland, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for this pleasant and fruitful visit. It has been a great plesure to have the privilege to visit your beautiful country for the past few days.

Perhaps the most serious threat facing mankind is the increasing global warming, without a doubt largely due to ever increasing emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. One of the primary drivers behind these emissions is our dependence on fossil fuels for energy generation. Based on our best current knowledge, it is estimated that CO2 emissions will have to be reduced by 50% if we are to stabilise and eventually reduce the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. At the same time 1,6 billion people have no access to electricity, a good we consider a bare necessity. The twofold task we face is enormus, to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while at the same time give 1,6 billion people access to electric power. If we are to succeed we need to see a dramatic change in energy generation. A true transformation that can only be brought about by adoption of new technology and use of less emitting sources of mobile energy.

Both Iceland and Romania are lucky to be endowed with renewable energy resources with minimal carbon emissions. This not only offers us as nations the chance to reduce our own ecological footprint, but also to contribute to the world as a whole, primary through integration with energy markets in Europe.

A few words about the situation in Iceland

Iceland has huge supply of geothermal resources and hydropower. As a result the energy balance in Iceland is quite unique.

Iceland not only owes its prosperity to its energy sources but its very existence. It is a country with a high standard of living where practically all stationary energy, and roughly 72% of primary energy, is derived from renewable sources (54% geothermal, 18% hydropower). Iceland’s energy use per capita is among the highest in the world and the role of renewable energy sources exceed most other countries. Nowhere else does geothermal energy play a greater role in the energy supply.

We are very proud of our achievements in recent decades in utilising our resources. Over 99% of all electricity in Iceland is produced by renewable resources, either hydro or geothermal. For example: about 88% of Icelandic housing is geothermally heated and the rest is heated by electricity. This means that practically all house heating comes from renewable energy sources.

And the current use of geothermal energy for heating and other direct uses is considered to be only a small fraction of what this resource can provide. The potential for electricity generation is more uncertain. Hydropower has been the main source of electricity, but in recent decades geothermal power plants have increased their share of the production.

In comparison electricity from renewable sources as a percentage of the total production in the EU was 13,9% and only 6,3% of the primary energy consumption of EU countries derived from renewables in 2005.

Icelandic expansion to Europe

Iceland has a long-standing commitment to international cooperation on the sustainable use of energy. The United Nations University Geothermal Training Programme, hosted by Iceland, has for many years been a valuable forum for the sharing of technological expertise and experiences with developing countries.

With its long experience with hydro power and world-leading expertise in geothermal utilization, Icelandic firms are now looking outwards. As Icelandic energy industry has gained knowledge and expertise from its previous work in these fields.

Importance of renewables

To illustrate the importance of increased investment in renewable energy consider this: the world primary energy demand is expected to increase by just over one-half between now and 2030, an average annual rate of 1.6%, according to a recent Scenario of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Demand grows by more than one-quarter in the period to 2015 alone. Over 70% of the increase in demand the projection period is in the developing countries. Almost half of the increase in global primary energy use goes to generating electricity and one-fifth to meeting transport needs – almost entirely in the form of oil based fuels. (IEA – world energy outlook - 2006).

We know that when it comes to meeting the foreseeable increase in world energy demand there is not any one solution. Instead, we will most likely have to make do with a diversified mix of solutions, including both fossil fuels and renewables, combined in a flexible way. We will need a pragmatic approach in trying to meet growing world demand for energy services. Different strokes will work for different people. At the same time, it is my firm belief, that the most effective way to advance the transition to a global energy system for sustainable development is by expanding the share of renewable energy in world demand. In Iceland we stand ready to contribute to that transition as best we can.

In conclusion, not only is it solely important for Europe to increase the share of renewable energy in a sustainable way, it is also important for the whole world. To make that possible, we have to use all the options available in utilising renewable energy sources to combat climate change, especially where we have already available clean technologies that can be used much more widely than today.

Romania is in many respects similar to Iceland. Apart from weather, size and population, both countries are rich with beautiful landscapes, raging rivers full of energy, and hot springs that have only been utilized to a share of their potential so far. The aim of our discussion here today is to share our experiences and visions, and search for common solutions to the immense tasks we have ahead of us. To create a more sustainable energy market in Europe.

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