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News in Brief, BB200706

Maritime policy - favourable for offshore wind power?

11.06.2007

Maritime policy can help provide a favourable framework for offshore wind power, which in turn will promote huge employment opportunities in coastal regions and beyond.


“Just think how an integrated approach could support our energy policy. Developing sea-based energies is key to our future energy security. For offshore wind and other types of sea-based energy, the challenges include connection to the grid and insurance costs,” said José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.

Organised in the Free and Hanseatic City of Bremen, under the auspices of the German Presidency, this maritime conference was one of the 200 events taking place across Europe as part of the consultation process on the future maritime policy for Europe. Launched in June 2006, the consultation is due to finish a year later, at the end of June 2007, which is an exceptionally long period for such an exercise. This reflects the significance of this topic in the Commission’s view.

In Barroso’s opening speech, alongside Chancellor Merkel, he discussed offshore-based renewables: “Developing sea-based energies is key to our future energy security, Europeans are world leaders in these technologies, and we must ensure that our policies allow us to make the most of this.”

According to the European Commission, the consultation responses demonstrate that strong links between energy and maritime policies are clearly emerging. The sea is the focus of substantial energy production and transportation. Seas and oceans are seen as huge potential for carbon-free offshore renewables, including wind farms and wave energy. These are all opportunities that the European Union should exploit, as we seek to guarantee secure and stable supplies of energy in Europe.

In his speech, President Barroso also added: “For offshore wind and other types of sea energy, the challenges include connection to the grid and insurance costs. Maritime policy can help provide a favourable framework, which in turn will promote huge employment opportunities in the coastal regions and beyond. Maritime policy can also help promote the development of future energy sources”.

For the first time, offshore wind energy is being regarded as an important economic activity for coastal areas, both in terms of the energy services it can provide, and as a source for employment and wealth. Indeed, as the Green Paper rightly points out, Europe is rich in marine resources and these have a direct affect on people’s lives, with 50% of the population living less than 50km away from the coastline and 40% of Europe’s GDP being generated in maritime areas. In light of this, offshore wind power production’s contribution to energy, climate and maritime policy objectives could be very substantial. A strong wind energy sector does not only mean reduced CO2, it also guarantees sustainable economic growth, reduced energy import dependence, export opportunities, regional development, high quality jobs, technology development, global competitiveness and European industrial and research leadership. The offshore wind sector is in the rare position of being able to satisfy all these requirements.

Feedback on the results of the consultation will be provided in a report at the end of 2007. By the end of 2007, the Commission will address a Communication to the Council and Parliament, summarising the results of the consultation process and proposing the way forward.

Offshore wind is an emerging industry and that has distinctive industrial and political development requirements. To fully exploit offshore wind potential, a European framework for the development of offshore wind power is needed to address and gradually remove the barriers to its development. This call for a European policy framework is not new. It formed an integral part of the informal cooperation between several Member States (Egmond/Copenhagen and Berlin) and was echoed in EWEA’s response to the Green paper on Maritime policy, which was submitted to the Commission at the end of May.

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