Offshore Energy: we need a strategy to fill the sails of offshore energy generation

Maximising wind and wave power will be pivotal in realising the green transition – the Offshore Renewable Energy strategy shows how we can make this a reality, believes Morten Petersen.
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By Morten Helveg Petersen

Morten Helveg Petersen (RE, DK) is a vice-chair of Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee

16 Aug 2021

Offshore energy is set to play a crucial role in the fight to fulfil the EU’s climate objectives. I cannot see a way for us to get to where we want to get without tapping into the huge potential of offshore renewable energy. With the European Parliament’s report on a strategy for Offshore Renewable Energy, I have sought to deliver an ambitious response to the European Commission’s proposal.

That said, it is of course a given that the Strategy represents only the starting point. Once we ensure that the Strategy aligns with our level of ambition for 2030, we need to follow up on our promises and keep advancing them. Achieving our targets will require a constant battle to reinforce the right decisions and to correct the course as and when needed.

I fully support the Commission’s proposal to increase the renewable energy capacities beyond 60 GW by 2030. This will give us the opportunity to secure a clean, cheap and stable source of energy as the foundation for the green transition.

“Currently, developers willing to deploy offshore wind projects are having to spend years going through a different, yet equally painstaking, permitting process in each country where they plan to deploy a project”

However,  this is easier said than done. In order to succeed in rolling out the required renewable capacity, the supply of offshore renewables can, and should, be integrated into all relevant EU legislation. Upwards revision of the targets in the Renewable Energy Directive and the associated governance structure and statistical transfers is needed.

It is my clear impression that the current speed of development is not fast enough. If we are to make good on our targets, we need to go up a gear in realising the benefits of offshore wind.

From what I understand, the barriers run along three main lines: Permitting, Infrastructure and Market Design. The deployment of offshore wind projects already takes years as it is, and a permitting process that adds several years on top is quite simply putting the targets out of reach.

That is even before taking the lack of coordination on an EU level into consideration. Currently, developers willing to deploy offshore wind projects are having to spend years going through a different, yet equally painstaking, permitting process in each country where they plan to deploy a project.

When you see that some of these offshore wind projects have lead times of eight to ten years, the need to simplify these processes is already getting deeply pressing. 

If these processes remain unchanged, it will mean that projects we initiate within two years will not be able to help us reach our 2030 goals. The existing market design rules also presents barriers because the current rules we have in place are not appropriate for offshore wind development.

“Thanks to the brilliant minds and innovative spirit of the people working in the EU offshore wind power industry, we are already global leaders in this field. The European wind power industry leads the world and offshore renewable energy carries huge opportunities for the creation of European jobs”

The way our energy markets will be set up in the future is different from the way they are currently structured, particularly when considering hybrid offshore projects. Not having the proper rules in place creates uncertainty for private investors. 

Thanks to the brilliant minds and innovative spirit of the people working in the EU offshore wind power industry, we are already global leaders in this field. The European wind power industry leads the world and offshore renewable energy production carries huge opportunities for the creation of European jobs.

That itself is no small feat, but we must not allow ourselves to be complacent. We need to put all our efforts into supporting the green transition and continuing to create the conditions that allow for such a competitive sector. On top of that, I think that further efforts in R&D and test centres should be at the core of the European Union’s clean energy industrial policy.

The most important, however, is that we must move faster. If not, we will not succeed in combatting climate change. It is as simple as that.

Read the most recent articles written by Morten Helveg Petersen - A Green Europe needs a Green Recovery

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Energy & Climate
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