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European countries sign declaration to create a wind energy hub in the North Sea

origin 1European leaders meet in Belgium to discuss increased investment in offshore wind energy. ©AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

The leaders and ministers of nine European countries signed a declaration in Belgium on Monday to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind energy in the North Sea.

The common goal is to increase offshore wind power generation to 120 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and to at least 300 GW by 2050.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said that “the potential we have in the North Sea in terms of offshore wind is enormous”.

“It’s the best quality offshore wind in the world. And the amount of potential we have is enough to power Europe’s current electricity demand by six times, there’s a huge potential there,” added Birol.

The summit was also attended by over 100 companies and ministers from Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has made it “clear that we have to produce more energy ourselves,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a joint press conference between the eight leaders and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

He added that offshore wind capacity would also accelerate the green transition.

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Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the participation of eight European countries plus the UK at ministerial level showed “a very real shared commitment to accelerate the transition to a green energy future and harness the immense potential of offshore renewable energy”. .

“When it comes to climate, the science is very clear, the facts are also very clear on the ground. The world is warming, severe weather events are becoming more frequent and we have no time to waste in acting. We need to be the generation that reverses the tide of climate change and biodiversity,” added Varadkar.

The main challenges they will face include financing and the supply chain of critical raw materials.

Important step but not simple

“The step that was taken today is very important from our point of view because it includes the heads of state,” Jan Vande Putte, energy and nuclear activist at Greenpeace Belgium, told RockedBuzz via Euronews.

“It’s a more formal statement than previous statements and, I think, more significant, a much clearer commitment.”

He said there was a lot of heavy industry and demand in northern Europe: “We really need renewable, reliable and cheap sources of energy that can be developed on a large scale.”

Offshore wind is also much more stable than onshore wind.

“It’s a good direction, but the ambition should be very high… But it won’t be simple logistically,” added Vande Putte. “This will be something to monitor year-over-year to make sure we haven’t missed these targets.”

In an industry statement, more than 100 companies representing offshore wind stressed ahead of the summit that “major new investments in wind power generation capacity and supporting infrastructure are needed.”

They said that current policies are not up to par and that there is a need to invest in networks and ports.

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Europe can currently produce 7 GW of offshore wind turbines a year, according to WindEurope, the association representing the European wind industry.

However, it would need to produce 20 GW annually by the second half of the decade to meet the new summit goals.

Monday’s summit was the second North Sea summit, as the four inaugural countries last year – Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands – agreed it was necessary to broaden cooperation.