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Renewables: Europe is Counting More Heavily on the Sea - Mihael Gubas

To help achieve the European Union’s (EU) 2050 climate neutrality goal, the European Commission unveiled, a few days ago, a strategy for offshore renewable energy. The Strategy proposes to increase the capacity of European offshore wind farms from the current 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030 and to 300 GW by 2050, respectively. The European Commission (EC) also proposes that by 2050, the capacity of ocean power plants and other new technologies such as floating wind and solar power plants be 40 GW. This ambitious growth will be based on the great potential of such energy in all European sea basins and the leading global role of EU companies in this sector. It will create new opportunities for industry, create green jobs across the world, and strengthen the EU’s global leadership in all energy technologies. Besides, the protection of the environment, biodiversity, and fisheries will be ensured, the EC said.

“Today’s Strategy shows that we have the opportunity to increase our investment in offshore renewable energy, which we must make urgent use of. Given the vastness of our sea basins and our industry’s leading position, the European Union has everything it takes to meet this challenge from renewable sources at sea is already a real example of European success. Our goal is to turn it into an even greater opportunity for clean energy, high-quality jobs, sustainable growth, and international competitiveness,“ said Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President for European Green Plan.

“Europe has a world-leading role in producing energy from renewable sources at sea and can become a leader in its global development. We must do even more to fully exploit the potential of offshore wind and improve other technologies such as wave energy and tides or a floating solar power plant. The Strategy provides a clear direction and a stable framework, which is important for public bodies, investors, and project promoters in this sector. We need to increase domestic production in the EU to meet climate goals, meet growing electricity demand and support the economy is recovering from the coronavirus crisis, “said Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.

“Today’s Strategy shows how we can develop renewable energy production at sea in combination with other human activities such as fishing, aquaculture, or shipping, all in harmony with nature. The proposals will allow us to protect biodiversity and face possible socio-economic consequences for sectors that depend on marine ecosystems’ good health. This is how we promote good coexistence within the marine space, “said Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.

To encourage and increase in offshore energy production capacity, the Commission will encourage cross-border cooperation between members in the long-term planning and deployment of technologies. To this end, the objectives for the development of energy from renewable sources at sea need to be integrated into the national spatial planning plans for the marine area, which must be submitted to the Commission by March next year. Besides, as part of the revised TEN-E Regulation, the Commission will propose a framework for the offshore network’s long-term planning, involving regulators and members from each sea basin. The Commission estimates that investments of almost € 800 billion are needed to meet the proposed targets by 2050. It has devised measures to generate and encourage such investments.

First of all, a clear legal framework for support will be established. To this end, the Commission clarified the electricity market rules in the accompanying Commission Staff Working Document yesterday. It will assess whether more specific and targeted rules are needed. It will revise the guidelines on state aid in energy and environmental protection and the Renewable Energy Directive to facilitate affordable production of energy from renewable sources at sea.

Then, it will help mobilize all relevant funds to support the development of the sector. The Commission encourages members to take advantage of the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism and work with the European Investment Bank and other financial institutions to obtain support for offshore energy investments through the InvestEU Fund. Horizon Europe will mobilize funds to support research and development, in particular, less developed technologies.

It will also strengthen the supply chain. The Strategy emphasizes the need to increase production capacity, improve port infrastructure, and increase the workforce with appropriate skills in line with the envisaged enhanced capacity installation. To bring together all sector actors, the Commission plans to establish a special platform for renewables at sea within the Clean Energy Industrial Forum. Also, it plans to work on supply chain development. The European Commission points out that offshore renewable energy is a fast-growing global market, especially in Asia and the US, which gives EU industry opportunities around the world. The Commission will support these technologies globally through diplomacy to achieve a green plan, trade policy, and the EU’s energy dialogue with partner countries.


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