The EU Commission’s targets for offshore wind power are achievable given sufficient investment, according to a report by European wind energy association WindEurope.
The ‘Our energy, our future’ report, released on 26 November 2019 at the Offshore 2019 event in Copenhagen, is a remit from the energy ministers of the ten ‘North Seas’ countries.
The report states that the goal of between 230 and 450 gigawatts (GW) by 2050 could be deployed most effectively around Europe, with 212GW in the North Sea, 85GW in the Atlantic, including the Irish Sea, 85GW in the Baltic, and 70GW in the Mediterranean and other Southern European waters.
WindEurope says that the 380GW that would be deployed in Northern European waters would require less than 3% of the total available space.
The report also suggests that to reach the target of 450GW, Europe needs to install over 20 GW a year by 2030, compared with the current capacity of 3GW. This target is part of a European commission scenario to deliver climate neutrality by 2050.
According to the report, spatial planning is essential to minimise cost, stating that in at least 60% of the North Sea is not possible to build offshore wind farms today. This is due to exclusion zones that exist for activity such as fishing, shipping, and military activity as well as environmental concerns.
The report also warns that governments should invest in onshore and offshore gird connections to accommodate the increase in offshore wind infrastructure, stating that investments will need to rise from less than €2bn to at least €8bn a year by 2030.
Capital expenditure from offshore wind would also need to rise from around €6bn a year to €23bn by 2030 and then up to €45bn to provide a regulatory framework for offshore wind farms.
WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “The EU says Europe needs at least 10 times as much offshore wind as we have today meet the 2050 goal of decarbonising energy.
“The International Energy Agency believes offshore wind could become the number one source of power generation in Europe in the early 2040s. The report shows that it is doable 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.”