Europe is moving offshore: Member States and industry discuss electricity generation from offshore wind energy
Invited by the German Minister for the Environment, currently President of the EU Environment Minister Council, policy makers and representatives from industry, regulators and scientific institutions of twelve European Member States met for the third “European Policy Workshop on Offshore Wind Power Deployment” in Berlin on 22-23 February 2007.
The workshop was a follow-up to the meetings in Egmond (2004) and Copenhagen (2005) and had the same clear objective: make progress towards a European policy for offshore wind power, in the form of an Action Plan for offshore deployment. ‘We believe 2007 will be a crucial year for offshore wind: this workshop has opened the way to concrete moves within the next twelve months. Next important date will be the energy council in June where Ministers will hopefully ask the Commission to initiate an Offshore Action Plan’, commented Christian Kjaer, EWEA CEO, at the Berlin workshop. The EU Policy workshop issued recommendations that will feed the Energy Council debates on 8 June 2007. Among other calls, the participants are encouraging the Commission to consider a project identifying risks and barriers to the large scale development of offshore wind power in Europe. Participants also call upon Member States with important coastlines to make use of their enormous resource of offshore wind power in order to achieve their respective sectoral targets for electricity. The need for more research on technology, grid integration and environmental aspects was also at the core of the workshop recommendations. The European Wind Energy Technology Platform and the 7th framework programme are seen as key elements to give high priority to offshore research and development. On grid issues, participants generally supported the designation of a European co-ordinator on grids for northern European offshore wind power plants as indicated in the Priority Interconnection Plan; a general study on cross-border offshore grids was mentioned as a needed step to develop a common European offshore policy. Participants reaffirmed the recommendations in the Copenhagen Strategy that the promotion of environmental studies should continue to improve the evaluation and assessment process for addressing and mitigating the impacts of offshore wind power on the marine environment. During the workshop, EWEA agreed to differentiate between on- and offshore wind power in its annual statistics on the wind power market and the total installed capacity in order to create transparency and to monitor the progress of offshore wind power deployment in Europe. To conclude, since the Copenhagen Strategy, noticeable progress has occurred in relation to offshore wind energy, for instance the approval of a favourable law in Germany that socialises the cost of grid connection; the set up of a European Wind Energy Technology Platform in which offshore wind research will be a priority; the development of several studies on environmental impacts of offshore wind energy; and the approval of a number of key projects in the North Sea. The offshore wind effort is also being extended to new countries such as Spain, where a new proposal for a tariff (around 14.6 eurocent/ kWh) on offshore wind electricity is being discussed; this will give offshore wind energy a truly European dimension. In December EWEA is organizing the first European Conference dedicated to offshore wind energy gathering the industry for four days.