Offshore Energy: all of Europe should benefit from offshore generation capacity

Europe is richly endowed with the potential for offshore electrical generation, but the power – and benefits - must be able to flow throughout the continent, argues Pernille Weiss.
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By Pernille Weiss

Pernille Weiss (DK, EPP) is member of Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee

20 Aug 2021

There are few things in life that are constant. Wind is one of them; it has a huge impact on our lives. Every single day. While we cannot tame it, we must take full advantage of wind so that we can pass on a greener planet for the coming generations. Therefore, I am in favour of the European Commission’s proposal of creating 340 GW of offshore energy by 2050.

One of the great aspects of wind power is that the technology is already proven. We have no excuse for not using this as a tool in the green transition.

Having said that, there are a number of things we must consider before setting our signatures on the new EU Strategy for Offshore Renewable Energy.

“Above all, we must prioritise this agenda so that we can make sure that this planet will be safely and responsibly passed on to the generations to come”

With this strategy, we must ensure that the EU becomes the leading continent for renewable energy. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the new strategy will be for all 27 Member States; offshore energy should not only be for coastal countries.

This is why we have to be ambitious with the offshore strategy. It cannot just be a random piece of paper that Member States can lean on if it fits into their agenda. Instead, we must make this a strategy that commits all national governments in the EU to comply. If we do that, there will be advantages for every Member State.

The first thing the strategy must ensure is that we establish the necessary infrastructure and legal framework that ensures a free flow of green electricity across the continent.

Power from turbines turning in Poland, Greece or Denmark should be accessible to landlocked countries such as Slovakia or Austria. This is essential if all of Europe is going to benefit from the offshore strategy.

It is crucial that the implementation ensures a deeper and better-functioning Energy Union. National barriers should be dismantled to help ensure the full and cheap use of green electricity. 

At the moment, the biggest concentration of offshore wind farms is located in the north of Europe, and we are going to add more to those. But we also have to look at alternative locations, such as in the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean or the Black Sea.

Spreading the wind farms to multiple locations provides the obvious opportunity to take advantage of the wind, wherever it may blow.

When exploring new territories for wind farms we need to make sure that these don’t collide with nature or businesses, such as fishermen, who will suffer as a result of wind farms in certain locations.

However, it is not enough just to build more new wind farms; we also have to look at new technologies. For example, I am calling on all Member States to consider a joint cross-border development of floating wind turbines and other innovative technologies using the wind in green and clean ways. This particular technology has shown great potential for regions with deeper sea basins. 

“In Europe, one of our greatest assets is our ability to innovate. I am sure that this will help bring us closer to our CO2 reduction goals”

One of our greatest assets is our ability to innovate. I am sure that this will help bring us closer to our CO2 reduction goals. This includes ensuring that when we develop new technologies, we make them last longer than do currently.

In fact, a windmill currently has a lifespan of only 20 years. This is an environmental challenge that we have to deal with; we must include a full life-cycle approach from construction to recycling.

As with everything else, it takes money to develop new technologies. I will encourage this being funded via the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), as they previously have supported offshore energy projects such as the North Sea Wind Power Hub.

The CEF supports cross-border project between Member States and holds a great potential to boost offshore renewable energy in the EU. In addition, I see it as an obvious choice to generate investments from European structural and investment funds and/or Next generation EU.

The funds are here, as are private, large-scale investors. We just need to make sure that they are spent in a way that encourages all Member States to be a part of this transition.

Let us not forget the huge potential this will provide in terms of job creation - from development, production, transport, and maintenance - the whole value chain. And this can be placed anywhere, so that all Member States can take advantage of this green adventure.

Therefore, I want to emphasise that I am calling on the Commission to prioritise offshore renewable energy – together with other relevant energy technologies – as a core component of Europe’s energy system in 2050. Above all, we must prioritise this agenda so that we can make sure that this planet will be safely and responsibly passed on to the generations to come. 

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