Several governments, grid operators and leading wind energy companies at the WindEurope 2022 event in Bilbao have signed a joint statement to fast-forward fixed and floating offshore wind and offshore grids to help Europe reach its ambitious targets for wind at sea given the urgency for a faster renewables expansion in the wake of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The European Commission recently asked for an additional 30GW of wind power in Europe by 2030 to help replace a significant part of Russian fossil-fuel imports well before the end of this decade. That comes on top of an already established EU offshore wind target of 60GW by 2030, and 300GW by 2050 (or 450GW including the UK and Norway).

“This is a critical moment for the energy industry across Europe, including the UK and Norway,” National Grid Ventures president Cordi O’Hara told WindEurope 2022.

“We need more offshore wind to strengthen security of supply and drive decarbonisation, and we need new cutting-edge technologies like hybrid interconnectors to connect wind faster and cheaper.”

The declaration was signed by the governments of Germany, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, the UK and Estonia, alongside the transmission system operators (TSOs) National Grid Ventures, Elia, 50Hertz, TenneT, LitGrid, as well as leading companies such as Siemens Gamesa, RWE Renewables, EDF, Shell, Iberdrola and Vattenfall.

The signatories have pledged to work together to provide a visible pipeline of offshore wind projects and hybrid interconnectors, and to remove regulatory and permitting barriers. They also aim to co-ordinate the design of tenders and identify best practices in national support schemes, including the use of non-price criteria.

The latter has increasingly be demanded by the offshore wind industry, which is being squeezed by rising raw material and logistics prices as well as supply chain bottlenecks — but at the same time supposed to churn out an ever increasing volume of turbines at cheap prices.

At a WindEurope 2022 session, Elia chief executive Chris Peeters stressed the need for hybrid interconnectors that link offshore wind farms to more than one country, which he said “is a much more efficient way to unlock the potential of offshore wind.”

“One third from the 2050 target needs to come from a form of hybrid interconnectors,” Peeters said, adding that seven were currently in the pipeline, three of which are between the UK and other North Sea countries.

The joint statement’s signatories also aim to co-operate on identifying new areas for offshore wind build-out as part of national maritime spatial planning regimes.

And the signatories aim to establish regulatory frameworks for offshore wind and offshore hybrid projects that secure a predictable long-term market environment and sustainable business models. This includes developing market arrangements for offshore hybrids that fairly distribute the costs and benefits between countries, TSOs and offshore wind farm developers.

“Europe urgently needs visibility on offshore wind volumes, a co-ordinated approach to grid planning and the right regulatory framework for new business models such as offshore hybrids to take off,” said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson .