Sweden's Got Talent!

Source: M. (Maroš) Sefčovič i, published on Tuesday, November 3 2015.

You've seen it in the last Eurovision, in Sweden's numerous Oscar winning films and Nobel Prize winning literature. You must have also seen it in the ice hockey or bandy rinks. But my recent visit to Stockholm made me discover another Swedish talent: its sense of innovation which led the country's energy transition.


Here's one example: Most Swedish cities currently enjoy the benefits of well-developed district heating networks, offering integrated energy systems of power production, waste management and recovered heat from industry.

Joined by Swedish Energy Minister, Ibrahim Baylan, I recently visited Stockholm Fortum facility, which is among the largest biomass facilities in the world which combine heating and power production. It consists of 2,500 km of district heating network and 120 km district cooling network, supplied mainly by renewable energy sources.

This clearly demonstrates how taking a holistic energy approach can result in a sustainable solution for both heating and electricity. The Swedish case proved to be highly efficient, commercially competitive and I must add -very aesthetically integrated into the surrounding city.


But it wasn't only about its functional use. There was also something very symbolic about the fact that this same facility which now produces clean renewable energy - used to serve for oil storage.

This is what the energy transition is all about! I was therefore very happy to explore the facility from its underground storage level to its roof where I held a press conference.


This powerful example of an intelligent system fed into my discussions with Minister Baylan, Members of the Swedish Parliament, and major stakeholders about the benefits of the Energy Union for Sweden. My interlocutors showed great interest in the project and particularly expressed their support for our strong governance system in order to ensure we meet our collective objectives.

This was not the first time I met with the Swedish Parliament. In fact, in my previous capacity as Vice President for Inter-Institutional Affairs I had this pleasure several times. In each of those meetings, I very much appreciated the parliamentarians' high level of interest and knowledge in EU policies and their will to engage proactively. This time as well, the presence of Members of various parliamentary committees allowed us to hold a substantive discussion about each of the five dimensions of the Energy Union.

More specifically, I welcomed Sweden's accomplishments, especially when it comes to its decarbonisation (lowest carbon-intensity in the EU), share of renewables (highest in the EU) and excellent regional cooperation across the Nordic and Baltic regions. We discussed the potential of further integration and inter-connection of Sweden to its neighbouring countries. We explored additional measures which could help Sweden reduce its energy-intensity, especially in the transport sector. Finally, we all agreed there was tremendous potential for applying Swedish technologies and experience across Europe and around the world.

There is great need and interest in such talent!