RIGA - State involvement in the energy industry is inevitable, and its task is to balance the interests of society and business and to take care of all aspects of sustainability, President Egils Levits said at Saeima Energy Forum on Monday.
Energy prices and energy security considerations have mobilized politics, said Levits. The European Union has been quickly and consistently taking strategic decisions on energy security.
There are certain trends obvious in Latvia: purchases of natural gas from Russia have been halted, the population's interest in production of electricity for self-consumption has increased, and major electricity producers have confirmed their interest in implementing renewable energy projects in Latvia, said Levits.
Furthermore, since the beginning of this year Latvia has a Climate and Energy Ministry, which forms an institutional basis for ensuring sustainable unified management and implementation of the climate and energy policies.
Latvia needs a sustainable energy strategy in the interests of the national economy, and the current policy planning documents are not sufficient, said Levits. "They need to be supplemented and essentially revamped," the president said, stressing that the first major task for the Climate and Energy Ministry was to develop a new, modern, sustainable energy policy concept, and then put it into practice.
"A serious sustainable energy development strategy is needed," said Levits, emphasizing that a very clear goal should be set for Latvia to become not only a producer of green energy, but also an exporter.
Clear guidelines are needed to direct investments accordingly and ensure the energy sector against various risks, said Levits. Also, a public discussion on energy policy is necessary, so that society grasp and understand the problems associated with energy policy and is ready for new solutions, for example, construction of wind farms.
Levits is confident that the Climate and Energy Ministry will, in line with Latvian and foreign experts' recommendations, develop and come up with a new, modern, sustainable energy development strategy, so that it can be discussed publicly and then adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers as a basis for Latvia's future energy policy in the medium term.
Investors and energy companies must be sure which path Latvia will take to ensure energy independence, emphasized Levits.
Global supply chains have changed in the wake of Covid-19 and the global energy crisis, stressed Levits. As there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, it is possible now for Latvian businesses to become part of future supply chains.
"Also, state-owned energy companies have the potential and the necessary competence to take leadership in innovation issues," said the president, adding that policymakers should clearly be given such a task so that the country's large companies could engage in meaningful innovation and technology development.
The involvement of the state in the energy sector is inevitable, as it is the state that supervises and develops network infrastructure, cross-border connections. "The task of the state is to balance the interests of society and business, taking care of all aspects of sustainability - environmental, social and also economic," said the president.