The offshore wind industry today (Monday) delivered a lengthy to-do list to European leaders gathering for the largest ever summit on North Sea energy, warning them that current policies can’t deliver the massive ramp-up needed to support the targets the politicians will put their pens to.
More than 100 companies spanning the offshore wind supply chain and associated sectors such as green hydrogen signed a joint declaration demanding action on issues ranging from port infrastructure – where the industry wants to see a €9bn ($9.9bn) improvement spree – and grid upgrades, to more effective financing mechanisms and design of government auctions.
Political leaders from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK will meet for the North Sea Summit today in Ostend, Belgium, to agree collective goals on offshore wind deployment and new initiatives such as energy islands and connected grids.
According to Reuters a draft of the agreement shows a combined ambition of 120GW by 2030, up from about 30GW now, and 300GW by 2050.
But a statement from WindEurope accompanying the industry declaration – signed by offshore wind stalwarts such as Orsted, Iberdrola and RWE along with newer players like BP and Shell – warns: “Governments bordering the North Seas understand that to make this a reality, major new investments are needed in wind energy manufacturing capacity and supporting infrastructure.”
Recent high-profile policy statements such as the EU’s Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) are “falling short for now”, with claims it is “overly focused on technological breakthroughs, rather than actual scaling up of existing supply chains”.
The statement said “expanding the offshore wind value chain is now primarily a volume game. Today Europe can manufacture 7GW of offshore wind turbines a year. To meet the expansion path outlined in the Ostend Declaration Europe needs to manufacture 20GW a year by the second half of this decade”.
Sven Utermöhlen, CEO of offshore for development giant RWE and chair of WindEurope, said: “The North Sea Summit represents an important step towards increasing Europe’s energy security by supporting an accelerated development of offshore wind in the North Sea. For achieving the ambitious offshore wind buildout targets, we need to massively ramp up European wind supply chains by target industrial policy measures and adequate support instruments.
“This needs to be complemented by auction designs fit-for-purpose, taking into account inflation developments for increasing the investment certainty of both manufacturers and developers and thereby, allowing the lowest financing cost.”