Helsinki, 20 October 2006
Growing resources for a green future - investing in science and technology
Speech by Minister of Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen European Conference on Biorefinery Research. 20 October 2006, Helsinki
My ministry is in charge of innovation, technology, competitiveness and energy policies. Thus, it is natural for me to look at the opportunities provided by biorefineries through these different policy perspectives. I would like to raise this point because co-ordination of policies remains a major challenge, both nationally and in the EU.
We are tackling this challenge of co-ordination currently also in our EU Presidency's main theme in the Competitiveness Council: the broad-based European Innovation Policy. Today it is discussed in another EU meeting in Lahti, and I am looking forward to the contribution of the Heads of States for our work in the Competitiveness and Energy Councils.
Biorefineries are a back-bone of a knowledge based bio-economy, which fits well into the economic vision that we have set ourselves with the renewed Lisbon strategy. It supports at the same time another central vision, that of sustainable development. I am convinced that it will also be a vivid demonstration of what technology can deliver when used responsibly in thenear future.
An extended and sustainable use of biorefineries will mean a major transformation in the economy and the society. We would also like to progress in the use of green resources and technologies without any delay - since it is important both for environment, a safer energy supply and for economic competitiveness.
Biorefineries are a source of many opportunities with high value added and impressive perspectives, such as specialty chemicals and new types of materials. They are of course equally interesting as bioenergy applications, the topic that I have chosen today to concentrate on.
I would like to point out that in the EU a share of only 50 percent of domestic energy sources is not acceptable in the future. In Finland we have only about 30 percent of our energy from our domestic sources. I believe that Finland could double the use of bioenergy in 20 years, which would raise the self-sufficiency to over 40 percent.
In the EU we are determined to accelerate now especially the use of biofuels, the target being a share of 5,75 percent of biodiesel or -gasoline by 2010. In Finland the government has proposed a law committing to this target by using an obligation to mix bio ethanol and biodiesel this share of 5,75 percent by 2010. Thus, we will exploit rapidly the possibilities of using the first generation of biofuels. In this phase the raw material mostly comes from the field crops.
Biorefinery technology is a perfect area for EU co-operation. The development and deployment path of the technology is demanding and calls for joint efforts. The policies setting the environment for this development are largely determined by European institutions. Obviously, we also need to look to the outside world in an active way. In this field, for example the transatlantic co-operation is advancing.
We have a long list of objectives on our table. Let me wish you, the experts and stakeholders, best of success with the work. I hope that this conference will prove to be useful in that. We are impatient to see the biofuels plants working, and soon the next generation biorefinery results and their impact in practice.