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The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met recently in Port of Esbjerg, Denmark (one of Europe’s most important offshore wind ports). They signed a joint declaration about a common vision of offshore wind and related infrastructure in North Sea.
The Summit held on the same day that the EU presents its REPowerEU Action plan, which is its strategic plan for reducing Russia’s fossil fuel imports and accelerating the growth of renewables. Von der Leyen’s presence at Esbjerg demonstrates how important the expansion of wind power is to Europe’s energy system.
REPowerEU hopes that Europe’s wind energy will grow from 190GW to 480GW by 2030 to increase its energy security. This will require a simplified permitting process and coordinated action to improve Europe’s wind energy supply chains. This requires large investments in offshore grid infrastructure, port facilities, and vessels.
Giles Dickson is WindEurope CEO. “It is amazing that the four EU North Sea Heads and the President of the European Commission are coming together in Denmark for new commitments regarding offshore wind. They’re doing this on the same day that the EU launches its huge REPowerEU action plan to transform Europe’s energy system. However, the EU’s new commitments to wind can only be fulfilled if Europe has a reliable wind energy supply chain and simplifies permitting wind farms. The latter is seeing positive developments. The first needs to be looked at: Five European turbine manufacturers are operating at a loss right now”.
Jochen Eickholt, CEO of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, said: “480GW by 2030 – The European Union and Member States are keen to have more wind energy. Siemens Gamesa is prepared to accept the challenge of delivering these additional volumes. However, Europe’s wind energy supply chains are in poor health. The cost of raw materials and component components is rising. Auction design is primarily cost-driven, while the risk is not evenly distributed throughout the value chain. This industry is not profitable. Abstract targets are not enough. To maintain Europe’s technological leadership in offshore wind, we need targeted support.”
Sven Utermohlen is RWE CEO Offshore Wind. He says: “Maritime Spatial Planning, the availability of seabed for wind farms and grid infrastructure and quicker permitting are key enablers to the expansion offshore wind energy. Europe must drive maritime spatial planning and simplify the rules and procedures to permit new wind farms. This is where the REPowerEU Action Plan makes a significant contribution. The declaration signed in Esbjerg demonstrates the strong commitment of national governments for the acceleration of the build-out offshore wind energy.
Mads Nipper, Orsted CEO says: “Offshore Wind will be a keystone in securing European Energy Independence and in combating climate change. The build-out should accelerate dramatically in the next years. It is important to distribute sites quickly and in large numbers, not one at a time. Offshore wind site tenders must also ensure that there is more social value than just price. The EU’s goal of 300GW offshore wind by 2050 is a challenge. It is not about cost. The future challenges will be to integrate large-scale, variable energy into power systems and ensure that it does so in harmony with the natural world. These challenges can be solved by the government using industry knowledge and innovation”.
Chris Peeters is the CEO of Elia Group. “Electricity grids on sea are becoming more complex. From building point-to–point connections, we are now building energy hubs that can be linked to hybrid interconnectors. A large portion of Europe’s offshore energy potential will not be tapped if offshore wind development is left to a country-by-country uncoordinated approach. At least seven European countries are currently working on hybrid interconnectors. If there is a favorable investment climate, these projects can be quickly implemented. This would give all parties a framework that will limit project risks and complexity, and make them attractive. Capital costs will decrease if the investment is de-risked. Innovation and competition will be able to fulfill their full roles in providing green electricity to European consumers in a cost-effective manner”.
Vestas CEO Henrik Andersen says: “It’s a very important announcement. We are very happy with the political ambition level. And that we now see decades worth of debate become decision making. It is crucial that we act immediately to accelerate the expansion of wind power in order to combat climate change and ensure energy independence. It is crucial that the targets are translated into permits, permits into projects, high quality technology and jobs.
Offshore wind must grow from 15 GW today in the EU to 300 GW by 2050 to reach climate neutrality. The EU also wants onshore wind growth to increase from 173 to 1000 GW over the same time period. The European wind industry will ensure that the expansion of onshore and offshore wind is done in harmony with biodiversity protection and with other stakeholders.