Regional Development Conference 2011 on smart sustainable and inclusive growth - how can Renewable Energy and Clean tech contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy 15 juni 2011
Anna-Karin Hatt, It- och energiminister
(Marita Ljung, Statssekreterare)
How can Renewable Energy and Clean tech contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy
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Good afternoon, Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all I would like to say that it is a great pleasure for me to be here in Östersund to meet you all today.
It is also an important opportunity to participate in this discussion of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in a regional context, of how important it is, and how it can contribute to the Europe 2020 strategy. So I would like to take the chance to outline to you what the Swedish Government is contributing, and the recent work on developing what we call an Eco-Efficient Economy. An Eco-Efficient Economy, simply put, is about combining competitiveness with environmental responsibility. It´s about exploiting the growing demand for environmentally friendly products and services.
So the Government has acted to promote both the production and installation of wind power, of solar cells and of biogas. Wind power is also a high priority in many regional development programs, within the framework for regional growth policies. It is a good way of producing renewable energy, as well as an opportunity to support and develop a new manufacturing industry.
One example is that Europe´s largest wind farm is planned for Markbygden outside Piteå in the north of Sweden. The project represent an investment of 70 billion Swedish crowns. The goal for the Wind Power Centre is to create lasting business, making Piteå a hub in the Barents region when it comes to manufacturing, information, research and training in wind power.
Here you can see the overall figures for wind power production. And you can see that the production has taken off since 2006.
Since 2006 the number of wind turbines in Sweden have increased by nearly 88 %, the installed capacity and production by 250 %. In 2011 the development of wind power is estimated to set a new record. During the last 12 months the production of wind power has been 4,7 TWh (which equals to 3,3% of the total production of electricity.)
I mentioned the regions. In Sweden, each and every one of our 21 counties has an individually developed regional climate and energy strategy. These strategies have been designed to identify, plan and implement regional initiatives and measures for reduced environmental impact, increased share of renewable energy, and maximise energy conservation. Their work is closely connected to regional development programs in each county, and is carried out in close collaboration with local and regional stakeholders and players.
Evidently, renewable energy has to be produced where the resources are located. Most rural areas are rich in natural resources and raw materials that can be used for energy. Renewable energy also creates opportunities for increased entrepreneurship and enterprise. So rural areas will have the power and resources to make an important contribution to the economy. The view of the Swedish Government is that all regions can best grow through their individual merits, and own individual strengths. We believe that it is the regional level that is best suited for dealing with the challenges it faces.
We firmly believe it is the region that should make the actual choices and necessary decisions to create sustainable regional growth. The role of the Government is to provide the regions with the tools they need. Structural Funds are a resource for achieving the objectives in a regional strategic plan. And it is also our firm belief that everyone in that region should be involved. We cannot achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the regions if we do not use the full potential of all the work force.
Among other things this means making it fully possible for both men and women to successfully combine work with personal and family life. The European Commission provides us with some interesting examples of what could be part of a smart specialisation strategy in their communication about smart growth. Innovation Cluster(s) for regional growth, Lifelong learning in research and innovation, the Digital Agenda and Public procurement to name a few. Many of them are high on our agendas, both nationally and in our regions.
A very important task, from all perspectives - regional, national and international - is to launch our Swedish Digital Agenda this year. It will outline the most important reforms that are needed in order to maximize the impact of ICT.
At this point ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to draw your attention to another process in front of us in Sweden. After kicking off in February I am very pleased that we are hard at work with an Innovation Strategy for Sweden. It will provide the political foundations for an innovative, competitive nation in a global society.
In line with Europe 2020, we use a broad interpretation of innovation in the strategy. Innovation consists of meeting needs, challenges and demands through new or better solutions. This includes new products, new services, new business models, new ways of working. Innovation requires new combinations of knowledge, of skills, of financing, and of technology.
Let me take a few examples.
A company in Habo in the south of Sweden has had an interesting and compelling journey that probably more of Sweden's small industrial companies will have to make. For our traditional industrial companies to be able to compete in global markets, more of them need to work harder and more systematically on innovation.
This company manufactures gates or portals for logistics centres. They have had great success from embedding intelligence into these portals. The intelligent portals read information concerning the goods coming in and out through RFID-technology (Radio Frequency IDentification). This effort transformed the company from a manufacturer of portals to a systems company in logistics.
The new solution was developed in interaction with research institutions and large customer companies such as the Swedish Postal Offices, Schenker and the logistics company DHL. This changed the business model of the small company quite profoundly, increased the service content and resulted in strong growth and new jobs in the company in this small town.
Here is an invisible bike helmet developed by a small company Hövding in Malmö in the South of Sweden. Two young industrial designers wanted to create an entirely new helmet. As you know, the capability for innovation in traffic safety has a strong tradition in Sweden. The helmet is currently entering the market.
This example highlights the importance of entrepreneurial student as a resource. Relating to the broad concept of innovation, these entrepreneurs have combined design and advanced technology. Our national strategy will be based on a broad dialogue with stakeholders in business, academia and the public sector, at both national and regional levels. It will be presented in 2012, and provide a vision and a framework for innovation policy through to 2020. This work with the national Innovation Strategy should contribute to a smart entrance/start in the work for the next planning period for the Structural Funds. However I also think this work should help bring new ideas to developing our own Regional Growth Policy.
Ladies and gentlemen, at the heart of our discussions are the challenges that we face - globally, in Europe, nationally and in our regions. It is our mission to find out how our policies can - and must - be made more effective, so investments can improve the future of the regions, the Member States and the Union.
To reach the ambitious objectives of Europe 2020, it is simply essential to have a bottom-up approach. Objectives, strategies and measures need to be deeply rooted at local, regional, and national level. And as we have been discussing, the need for more innovative solutions and renewal is even more acute than ever. The more efficiently we convert knowledge into innovation - new products, new services, new processes, new organisational solutions - the more value will be added to the society as a whole.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, the challenges we face are indeed great. But we can overcome them.
We need to bring hope to our people and our nations. Hope for today and for tomorrow. Innovation creates possibilities for new jobs and stronger competitiveness. Innovation makes the future greener. Innovation brings hope and inspiration.
I, and our Government, believe that for the sustainable, smart growth and the smart specialisation that we are discussing today, the driving force is innovative and creative people, such as can be found here today. Innovative and creative people can live and work both internationally and locally. The local, the regional, are - and should be - more and more important in our work to meet these great challenges.