Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre have opened the 2nd German-Norwegian expert workshop on 22 October in Bonn. Minister Westerwelle delivered the following speech:
I would like to welcome you to the second workshop of the Norwegian-German energy partnership. It is an honour and special pleasure for me to welcome you to my home town of Bonn, in my home state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
North Rhine-Westphalia has a long tradition at the centre of the German energy industry. It used to be a region of coal-pits. Some 3000 pits were dug across the state in order to extract the “black gold”. Coal mining attracted other industries to the area, and the region became the centre of Germany’s steel industry and one of the richest parts of Germany. The example of North Rhine-Westphalia in the 19th century shows that a strong and reliable energy base is the driver for the whole economy. That was true in the 19thcentury and that is still true today. Our Norwegian friends share this experience.
Another lesson can be drawn from the region’s history. The coal industry has been ailing since the mid-1950s. It has been heavily subsidized. Personally I have always urged to phase out the subsidies. Because yesterday’s success had become today’s burden. We must never forget that the key to economic success is change and innovation. Today, North Rhine-Westphalia is a thriving region once again, because it has developed new success stories.
We have to do the same thing in the energy sector on a global scale. We have to transform our fossil-fuel economy into a sustainable economy.
Only a few weeks ago the German government has released a comprehensive energy strategy that lays out a path towards that goal. We want to replace almost our entire energy infrastructure within a few decades. By 2050, 80% of our power supply will come from renewable sources. This may not sound a lot to Norwegian ears, but it will be a massive step considering where we are starting from.
We Germans will not be able to do this all on our own. Our ambitious plans for a sustainable energy supply can only succeed if national measures fit into an international framework. We need the support of many countries around the globe to create an environment that is conducive to sustainable energy production and climate protection. We need an ambitious foreign energy policy if we want to enlist this support.
Germany is strongly committed to such a policy. We will build coalitions and promote energy efficiency in the East, solar energy in the South, energy research in the West and wind energy in the North. We will reach out to everyone, engage with many, and build strategic partnerships with a few key players – such as Norway. I want Norway not only to be one of our best friends, but to be our closest partner in this endeavour. I want Norway to be our ally for an innovative sustainable energy supply.
Today, Norway is already one of our foremost trading partners. Our oil and gas imports from Norway are second only to those from Russia. Both countries, Russia and Norway, are key players in the Arctic - a region of high strategic interest. Russian and Norwegian companies are exploring the resources of the region. Norway is acting with expertise, prudence and success in the Arctic, taking all of its legal and environmental challenges into account.
The recent bilateral Treaty with Russia regarding the sea borders in the Barents Sea is one impressive proof. Germany welcomes these developments. Iam sure that they will also strengthen the Northern Dimension policy of the EU. Germany has a strong interest in seeing the Arctic Region develop in a peaceful and sustainable manner while maintaining the region's openness to non-Arctic countries. We see Norway as an ideal partner for developing security and economic perspectives in the region.
The facts and figures relating to Norwegian-German cooperation in the energy sector today may be impressive. But the real significance of the Norwegian-German energy partnership lies in our potential for innovation.
That's why it is good that the Norwegian-German Collaborative Chairs on Energy and Environment are about to start their work at the universities of Stavanger and Clausthal-Zellerfeld, with generous support from industry, namely Lyse Energi and EWE.
This leads us straight to the heart of what this workshop is all about. How can Norwegians and Germans combine their work and help build a low-carbon economy together?
Wind energy, especially offshore wind energy, presents great opportunities for both Norway and Germany. In developing offshore wind energy, the strengths of our economies can complement each other. The Hywind project is an example where Norwegian and German experiences were successfully combined. There are great commercial opportunities in this kind of cooperation. The German energy strategy foresees an investment of 75 billion euros in offshore wind energy in the next 20 years. We are planning to create 25 gigawatts of capacity.
Norway and Germany should consult closely in order to make this investment a success. We should address the issue of grid integration for offshore wind energy as soon as possible. Wind energy in the North Sea and northern Germany and pump storage capacities in Norway could complement each other perfectly once we integrate our power grids. It could help balance the highs and lows of power generation from wind energy in Germany. Norway could increase its exports by selling power to Germany, and storing German surplus production when it is cheap. This is a win-win situation. We should not miss this opportunity.
Finally, Norway and Germany should work together on CCS. I believe that Norwegian and German CCS experts stand to gain a lot from exchanging experience across the North Sea.
We should also talk about public acceptance issues. All the things I mentioned – offshore wind, grid connections and CCS – face opposition from local communities. Together we should explain to our people that a sustainable energy supply needs an innovative energy infrastructure. One cannot be for renewable energy but against investments in energy infrastructure.
I wish everybody at this workshop a successful session with fruitful discussions. The German-Norwegian close cooperation on energy issues is just one aspect of our mutual friendship. It is a good example of the strong partnership linking Norway and Germany in all areas of foreign policy. The Norwegian-German energy partnership is a partnership for the future.