An offshore renewable energy agenda for the European Union

This session will draw attention to the significant potential capacity for offshore renewable energy deployment in the EU. It will focus on the cross-sectoral and cross-border cooperation solutions that exploit this potential and help the EU achieve its 2030 and 2050 energy and climate targets whilst re-launching a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Commission’s Long-Term strategy foresees that offshore wind capacity will increase to 240-440 GW by 2050 while other renewable ocean energy technologies (wave, tidal) will also play an important role. Today’s offshore wind capacity amounts to about 22 GW in 11 Member states mostly in the North Sea region, but the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and the Atlantic Ocean also have a significant potential. This unprecedented increase in offshore renewable energy brings multiple challenges but also opportunities for the European energy systems, maritime space and sea users, industrial actors and the civil society. In this context, a close and long-term regional cooperation between Member States, regulators, TSOs, project developers, seas users, big energy users and RES industry and suppliers is required more than ever. For the power system, the transport of large amounts of offshore energy to shore and consumption sites will require developing large scale offshore grids combining the evacuation of offshore energy and regular cross-border energy trade, as well as onshore reinforcements and rolling out of conversion and storage technologies fed by offshore renewables. An increase at this scale will require a comprehensive approach to use the limited maritime space efficiently, notably reduce the scale of the grid infrastructure and ensure protection of the environment and biodiversity. EU industry is currently global leader in offshore technologies, but other regions such as US and China are catching up quickly. Therefore, EU offshore industry needs a comprehensive approach to consolidate its leadership and replicate it in emerging technologies such as floating wind while ensuring reliability and sustainability in manufacturing processes, installation methods, transport and operation & maintenance and supply chains. By presenting the benefits and huge opportunities for the offshore renewable industry in the EU, the event expects to attract the attention of EU and national policy makers and the wind sector, as main actors that can bring about the necessary changes.