Report: E.U's Offshore Wind Goals are Achievable

Published Nov 26, 2019 6:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

The E.U. Commission’s goals for between 230 and 450GW of offshore wind by 2050 are achievable provided the right investments in electricity grids and Governments take the right approach to maritime spatial planning. That’s the conclusion of a new WindEurope report Our energy, our future.

450GW of offshore wind is part of a European Commission scenario to deliver climate neutrality by 2050.

The report examines where 450GW of offshore wind could be deployed most cost-effectively around Europe, considering there is only 20GW today. 212GW could be deployed in the North Sea, 85GW in the Atlantic (including the Irish Sea), 83GW in the Baltic and 70GW in the Mediterranean and other Southern European waters. This reflects the relative wind resources, proximity to energy demand and the location of the supply chain. 

The report also breaks down how would each country would deploy in an optimal scenario. The 380GW that would deployed in Northern European waters, for example, would require less than three percent of the total space there.  

In at least 60 percent of the North Seas it is not possible to build offshore wind farms today. These exclusion zones exist either for environmental reasons or because space is set aside for fishing, shipping and military activity. The report states that multiple use, e.g. allowing certain types of fishing in offshore wind farms, would help facilitate offshore wind development and keep costs down.

Building 450GW offshore wind by 2050 requires Europe to install over 20GW a year by 2030 compared to 3GW today. The industry is gearing up for this, but it’s crucial that Governments provide visibility on volumes and revenue schemes to give long-term confidence for the necessary investments, states the report.

Governments should also anticipate this significant growth in offshore wind in their planning for both offshore and onshore grid connections. Not least since there is a 10-year lead time on planning and building the grids needed for offshore wind. Offshore grid investments will need to rise from less than €2 billion in 2020 to up €8 billion a year by 2030. Europe also needs to provide a regulatory framework for offshore wind farms that have grid connections to more than one country. 

Capital expenditure on offshore wind including grids will need to rise from around €6 billion a year in 2020 to €23 billion by 2030 and thereafter up to €45 billion.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “The International Energy Agency believes offshore wind could become the no. 1 source of power generation in Europe in the early 2040s. The report shows that it is do-able and affordable. But three things need to happen: (1) the offshore wind supply chain keeps growing; (2) we build the grid connections; and (3) we get the maritime spatial planning right.”

The report is available here.

Breakdown by country of 450GW of offshore wind: