The North Sea Summit in Ostend, Belgium, which took place during the week of 24 April, saw energy ministers from nine European countries commit to building 300 GW of offshore wind capacity in the North Sea by 2050.
European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, described the North Sea as Europe’s “green powerhouse, leading the way in deploying offshore renewables to decarbonise our economies..."
The declaration, stating that the North Sea ‘should be the Green Power Plant of Europe’, was signed in Esbjerg by the energy ministers of Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands on 18 May 2022. The energy ministers of France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway and the United Kingdom have now joined this enterprise by signing the Ostend Declaration.
The Declaration emphasises that energy security and the fight against climate change are crucial to the future of Europe, which needs to strengthen its co-operation to ensure affordable, secure and sustainable energy, while at the same time continuing its efforts to protect the marine ecosystem. In response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and attempts of energy blackmail against Europe the trading bloc together with the UK intends to accelerate its efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption as well as dependence on fossil fuel imports, and promote the rapid upscaling and deployment of renewable energy to create an energy resilient Europe.
It further underlines that the goal of developing the infrastructure, the production of offshore renewables, and a market design for the North Seas, is to accelerate the energy transition and maximise the benefits for households, industry and society as a whole.
The ministers have set ambitious combined targets for offshore wind of about 120 GW by 2030 in the North Sea, with the aim of increasing it to at least 300 GW by 2050.
The ministers welcomed the initiative that the transmission system operators from Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have undertaken to develop a meshed offshore grid and to identify the next steps for its realisation.
This will contribute to large-scale onshore and offshore production of renewable hydrogen. Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and The United Kingdom have set combined targets of about 30 GW production capacity by 2030 and look to expand their production even further for 2050.
A series of individual goals has been set for offshore wind, including the following:
- Belgium will establish 6 GW offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040.
- Denmark will enable the deployment of at least 5.3 GW total offshore wind capacity in the North Sea in 2030 with a view towards up to 35 GW by 2050 and potentially more depending on European demand for green power.
- France aims at establishing at least 2.1 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 4.6-17 GW by 2050 in the North Sea and Eastern Channel.
- Germany will establish at least 26.4 GW offshore wind by 2030 and 66 GW by 2045 in the North Sea.
- Ireland will establish at least 4.5 GW offshore wind by 2030 and 20 GW by 2050 in the North Seas.
- Norway – at least 3 GW of offshore wind by 2030, including 1.5 GW of floating wind, and award areas that are suitable for 30 GW offshore wind by 2040.
- The Netherlands will establish about 21 GW offshore wind capacity around 2030 and studies whether 50 GW in 2040 and 72 GW in 2050 is feasible.
- The UK aims to establish up to 50 GW offshore wind by 2030, to include up to 5 GW of floating wind, and at least 18 GW interconnection capacity by 2030.
There will also be some major co-operative projects.
- Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands will strive to develop the first interconnected system of energy islands and clusters in the North Seas by the mid-2030s, while Belgium will establish the world’s first offshore energy island, an energy-hub combining offshore wind generation and cross-border interconnection.
- Belgium and Denmark are to work closely together on hybrid renewable energy projects, including the ‘TritonLink’ connection between the Danish Energy Island and the Belgian Princess Elisabeth Island.
- Denmark will establish the world’s first multi-phased energy island in the North Sea with an initial capacity of at least 3 GW offshore wind by 2033 and connections to Belgium and Denmark. Luxembourg has concluded an agreement with Denmark in 2022 on statistical transfers and intends to further financially support the realisation of this project.
- Ireland and the UK will explore opportunities to co-operate in the development of further interconnections between the Single Electricity Market of Ireland and Great Britain, including hybrid/multi-purpose interconnector projects.