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30 September 2016

Interview with Dr. Olga Bogdanova

Copyright: Olga Bogdanova

After the project was awarded flagship status, we had the chance to talk Dr. Olga Bogdanova, the Head of the Energy Market Unit and Deputy Director of the Energy Market and Infrastructure Department of the Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia. She is acting as the Policy Area Coordinator for the Policy Area Energy (PA Energy) of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR).


Baltic InteGrid: Thank you for taking your time to talk to us today Ms. Dr. Bogdanova. To start with, could you please explain the role of the Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia as Policy Area Coordinator for the Policy Area Energy of the EUSBSR?

Dr. Olga Bogdanova: The role of the energy coordinator is to improve the implementation of the EUSBSR Action Plan and Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP). The BEMIP and the EUSBSR PA Energy were two separate, parallel initiatives and it was unclear where the responsibility of one initiative ended and the other began. These two initiatives have been brought together in order to improve the macro-regional cooperation. For us, there are two core documents: the BEMIP Memorandum of Understanding and the Action Plan. Our main role is to facilitate the implementation of the Action Plan. One way of doing this is by promoting projects which correspond to the larger aims of energy policy, such as at the regional level.


What is a Flagship Project and what were the main reasons for the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan initiative (BEMIP), DG REGIO and national coordinators to accept the recommendation to include the Baltic InteGrid project as a Flagship Project under our Policy Area?

There are a lot of different initiatives and projects. Our role is to see how the separate initiatives fit together and to identify whether we should help them accelerate in order to help achieve common goals, which were defined on the regional level for the energy policy. Our job is to organise different kinds of events, to consult, to distribute information and to help Member States make a decision by recommending certain flagship projects. Flagships demonstrate the desired change we would like to see in the Baltic region. Your project was included as a flagship project because it helps to meet the aims of the overall EU Baltic Sea Region Strategy.


What do you expect from the development of Offshore Wind Energy in the Baltic Sea?

As you know, the European Union clearly promotes the development of renewable energy sources and the Baltic Region is no exception. Wind energy is one of the sources ensuring that the set renewable energy targets can actually be achieved. There are several projects, including Baltic InteGrid, that facilitate the achievement of those targets by combining the practical issues with policy issues. These projects aim to make seemingly abstract problems more accessible for policy implementers.

With regards to offshore wind energy, there are a lot of studies that show the high potential of this energy source. Compared to onshore, offshore wind energy is easier in terms of licencing and related issues, because there are no problems with private entities and real estate, thus making them easier to implement in practice. Other challenges like the connection of the offshore wind farms with the shore remain, but projects like yours help to overcome these problems.


What challenges need to be tackled to accelerate the development of Offshore Wind Energy in the EU Baltic States?

Well, the integration into the grid is definitely one of the challenges we are facing in the offshore wind energy sector. Due to the fluctuations in renewable energy generation, we are awaiting specific energy package proposals from the European Commission, which will aim at tackling these difficulties through price and market mechanisms. We do not yet know the exact solutions proposed by the Commission, but it will definitely be addressed.


What are your concrete expectations from the collaboration with the Baltic InteGrid project, in particular with regard to optimisation of regional cooperation?

As mentioned earlier, we believe Baltic InteGrid helps to meet the overall Baltic Sea Region strategy as it contributes not only to one country, but is macro-regional and creates synergies between different Member States and further connects the region. The project facilitates energy diversification in the Baltic Sea Region and is, therefore, relevant from an energy dependency point of view. These characteristics can be cross-linked to other challenges identified in the BEMIP action plan.