Energy Ministers from North Sea countries who met today (20 June 2019) in the Danish city of Esbjerg have agreed to extend and intensify their cooperation on offshore wind.
The ministers agreed to extend a political declaration on energy cooperation in the North Sea beyond 2019, an agreement that was first signed in 2016.
WindEurope told OWJ, “The wind industry recognised the progress made so far in its input submitted to ministers before the meeting and called for governments to collaborate even more with each other on offshore wind.
“The industry is also asking for a shift in focus from cost reduction – already achieved ahead of time – to a more action-based approach, focusing on site development; development and optimisation of grids; developing the onshore grid; and technical standards.”
Ministers agree that offshore wind is key to delivering Europe’s ambition on decarbonisation. A net-zero emissions economy by 2050 will rely on renewable energy. This will mean a total of 240-450 GW of offshore wind, according to the European Commission.
WindEurope said delivering offshore wind needs two things: higher national ambition and international cooperation, especially in the North Sea. The latter is essential to expanding offshore wind cost-efficiently.
“That is why North Sea Energy Ministers agreed to extend the declaration. Before the meeting industry called for governments to collaborate even more with each other on offshore wind. They should also strengthen the cooperation with the wind industry and other sea users. The collaboration should be strategic,” said WindEurope. “The volume targets and the policies to achieve them should be spelt out in the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) for 2030.”
WindEurope said ministers should prioritise issues such as access to sites and site development, including regional screening and maritime spatial planning across national sea borders to identify potential sites for 450 GW of offshore wind; cumulative and cross-border environmental impact assessments; a common approach to planning and permitting factoring the potential risks and benefits to biodiversity; new solutions for site development, including multiple uses and co-existence with other sectors' interests; and a larger role for developers in site development within the zones assigned by member states in their maritime spatial plans.
Work on developing and optimising grids needs to focus on opening the development of transmission assets (to shore); developing a framework for hybrid projects connecting more than one market; and defining optimum onshore locations for the import of power, reducing the number of landing points.
Development of the onshore grid from the coast to consumers needs to see greater coordination in the development of new lines and reinforcing existing ones. Also needed is better communication of the societal value of grid expansion, including climate mitigation, cost efficiency and energy security; and greater promotion of sector coupling and electrification through incentives for electro-intensive industry to locate near ‘landing points’ or other large consumption centres.
On technical standards, WindEurope said it was important to align technical standards to reduce costs, increase safety and maximise skill transferability. This should include vessels and crew requirements, aviation and naval lighting and marking, health and safety and project certification.
It said it was also important to coordinate the national implementation of standards, and align with other international initiatives and projects, where possible.