It's one thing to be ahead on the curve when it comes to green energy technologies. It's another thing to provide energy to consumers across national borders. But the regions of Lower Saxony in Germany and Northern Netherlands are doing both! In doing so, they are setting example to what the Energy Union could look like.
Not everything is perfect in the EU; we definitely have some major challenges. But what I saw on Friday in Lower Saxony and Northern Netherlands - is living evidence that the European spirit of integration and solidarity is alive and well, and that its energy is crossing borders.
Video of My visit to Lower Saxony and Northern Netherlands in 100 seconds
I went to visit the region as part of the Energy Union Tour but this visit was somewhat different. This time my meetings did not consist of the heads of governments but of discovering with my own eyes how the two bordering regions cooperate when it comes to their research, production, and distribution of renewable energy sources. What I saw surpassed my expectations.
In both universities of Oldenburg (DE) and Groningen (NL) I met with students and professors who presented to me their state-of-the-art scientific developments in the field of energy transition (photovoltaics, storage, efficiency, wind energy, etc.). These brilliant minds from Germany, The Netherlands, and from all over the world invest their time, talent, and great passion to make the energy transition happen. And happen now. They are looking at the most effective ways to deploy their students' ideas in the market in minimal time. In that they energise the economy, provide youth employment, and help meet our environmental objectives.
In fact, in the two regions of Lower Saxony and Northern Netherlands the wind of change is already blowing. Off-shore wind energy from the North Sea currently supplies electricity to consumers on both sides of the border. This kind of energy cooperation is exemplary and constitutes a crucial step towards a single European energy market. That is why we need to ensure energy also crosses other European borders, all European borders.
In all honesty the end of my visit was a huge waste. Not a waste of time but waste, imported from countries across the region in order to produce green energy, reusable raw materials, compost and biofuels! When the visionaries at Attero came to realise that Europe's energy should know no borders, they decided to apply the same rule to its sources, especially sustainable ones. The residual waste they turn into energy now comes from as far as Ireland!
What can I say, I went to the region to empower and encourage grassroots energy cooperation. I came back much encouraged myself. Europe's energy revolution is happening before our eyes. My commitment is to ensure such success stories spread and multiply; and that Europe provides them with the means and tools to continue doing what they do so well.
I'd like to thank the hosts for the warm hospitality and impeccable organisation, especially ministers Stefan Wenzel, Tjisse Stelpstra, and Nienke Homan.