The North Sea as Europe’s Largest Power Plant

by | 25. Apr 2023 - 15:30 | Politics

Nine littoral states want to drive forward the expansion of offshore wind energy. High-level summit in Belgium.

By 2050, wind power capacity in the North Sea is to be increased tenfold, from the current 25 gigawatts (GW) to over 300 GW – this was the goal set by the neighboring countries of Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands just over a year ago. But despite some success stories, the expansion is progressing too slowly. To speed it up, nine countries bordering the North Sea now want to cooperate more closely. In addition to the littoral states mentioned above, France, Norway, Ireland, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and the EU signed the declaration (PDF) at the second North Sea Summit in Ostend, Belgium.

Under this cooperation, European North Sea wind farms are to be interconnected with each other and with the mainland in order to be able to distribute the electricity produced across countries. At the same time, the countries want to promote the production of green hydrogen with the help of offshore wind energy. The North Sea is to become Europe’s green power plant, said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, saying we have “an energy powerhouse on our doorstep”

Expansion targets require more investment and political support

But the expansion targets are considered ambitious, exceeding the generation capacity that each of the signatory countries currently has at the national level, the German government’s statement said. European companies such as Orsted and Equinor told Reuters more political support and funding are needed to implement them. In 2022, final investment decisions for European offshore wind farms were at a 10-year low, the news agency said. Despite a recovery, Wood Mackenzie analysts estimated that the risk of import dependency from countries such as China would increase in the coming years. Thus, in a joint statement, the participating heads of government also warn against entering into new dependencies for the energy transition and call for diversifying the sources of critical raw materials for wind turbines and batteries.

Photo: iStock/Tafkan H

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