Fortum is currently building the world’s biggest biofuel-fired combined power and heating plant right in the heart of Stockholm. Could biofuel also satisfy Riga’s energy needs
This open letter has been penned by 8 people with a common interest: that Latvia should thrive and prosper. All of us as signatories live our lives with one foot in Latvia and the other in Sweden. Since the early 1990s (some of us even longer), we have worked with a sense of national commitment and pride to promote good Latvian-Swedish relations within such areas as the arts, history, education and business.
We have all had the benefit of being part of the development process of Latvia during these intervening years. In addition, we are also very much aware of the difficult sacrifices that Latvians have made and of the major crises that they have endured for large parts of their history. The financial crisis of 2008-2010 hit Latvians much harder than it did most other people. Therefore, let us be the first to congratulate Latvia on its recovery and stabilisation which it has managed to achieve over the last three years. However, as important as it was to act correctly and decisively during the crisis, it is now equally important to draw up guidelines and develop a strategy for the future.
Now is the time to seriously address important challenges and establish a strategy that creates new job opportunities, increases domestic production, reverses the population trend, strengthens the economy and raises welfare levels and living standards. In short, it is about strengthening Latvia and the national self-esteem amongst all those who are fortunate enough to live and work in this beautiful country. If Latvia succeeds in doing this, it will increase confidence in the future, social cohesion and levels of integration.
Now, you might be thinking that we want to launch a new political party, trying to win the autumn election on the back of the promise of a fantastic future, but that simply is not the case - none of us have any political ambitions in Latvia! Actually, we are convinced that the Latvian people, their politicians and other decision-makers will be able to do this themselves! Our sole purpose is to highlight the fact that Latvia stands at an important strategic crossroads and should make a decision as to the direction it is to take as soon as possible. Moreover, what established politician would not want to be remembered as the one who participated in the decision making process thatinfluenced the development of the Latvian national economy?
So, what is our message and why are we promoting it now? Well, two completely separate events have given us cause to pick up our pens.
• The first is positive; a Swedish State Visit to Latvia by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. The State Visit is an excellent opportunity to highlight positive examples in our two countries.
• The second is the current situation in Crimea, which affects us all in many ways and forces the whole of Europe to think about and discuss the issues of energy supplies and energy independence.
Our message is simple:
• Read carefully the article about Stockholm’s energy supplies below. We believe that it is entirely possible to replicate in Riga what is going on in Stockholm, where serious efforts have been made to switch from fossil fuel-based energy supplies to renewable energy. The proportion of renewables used in Stockholm is currently 67%, and is increasing substantially.
Andris Zveijnieks, Stockholm/Riga House owner
Gustav Melin, Stocholm, CEO of the Swedish Bioenergy Association and President of AEBIOM (European Biomass Association)
Ralejs Tepfers, Professor emeritus in Building tehnology, Chalmers University, Sweden.