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EWEA Activities, BB200710

Offshore wind energy – news, facts and events

05.11.2007

Potential of offshore wind

While the majority of wind installations in Europe are currently situated onshore, the strongest and most constant wind can be found off the continent’s northern and western coasts. The first offshore wind farm – an 11-turbine structure in Vindeby, Denmark – has been operational since 1991. By the end of 2006, 18 offshore wind projects in five countries added up to nearly 900MW of electricity generation. Accounting for just 1.8% of the total installed wind power capacity, they nevertheless provided 3.3% of all electricity generated by wind power. By 2015, current and planned offshore projects in eight EU countries could reach 15GW. By 2020, if the existing barriers to the development of this technology are removed, EWEA estimates that this figure could increase to at least 40GW of offshore wind power in EU waters.

An increase in the use of offshore wind power would further reduce CO2 emissions and increase the security of energy supply, as well as provide additional employment in areas such as construction, engineering and ship logistics. In order to fully develop and exploit the potential of this highly promising energy source, a European offshore wind policy is crucial. Recently, the European Parliament adopted Rapporteur Britta Thomsen’s report which calls on the Commission to draw up an action plan for offshore wind, a sign that there is considerable support within the Parliament for the idea of such a policy.

First offshore conference

The first major offshore wind energy event was organised in 2005 by the Danish Wind Industry Association (DWIA). The Copenhagen Offshore Wind Conference (COW05) attracted more than 100 exhibitors and 1000 delegates from across Europe, bringing together policy makers and offshore practitioners for the first time. From this heritage, the European Offshore Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EOW2007) has developed. Jakob Holst, Senior Advisor for DWIA, outlines why it was the right moment to hold COW, and why it is now appropriate to continue building on the work started in Copenhagen: “the offshore industry faces challenges in its development, as we plan projects across Europe. We felt the time was right to harness the industry’s optimism and experience, look at what we can adapt from traditional offshore industries like oil and gas, and address some of the shared challenges we face. These include influencing policy makers and developing technologies for the marine environment. Attendance exceeded our hopes, and it became obvious that offshore development issues were a common European challenge,” continued Holst.

With the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) acting as the voice of wind energy across Europe, DWIA felt that the conference and exhibition would benefit from the wider profile EWEA could offer, initiating a broader interest in the political, as well as practical issues that the industry was facing.

Under EWEA’s management, the pan-European event will take place every other year, in markets with offshore potential, starting in 2007 with Berlin. “Berlin was a natural choice for 2007,” commented Loïc Blanchard, Senior Policy Advisor for EWEA. “The interest in offshore development within Germany is strong and is backed by significant political support. Recent developments have advanced the possibility of an offshore wind action plan, which was foreseen in Copenhagen two years ago. In Berlin we will move forward with these policy issues and benefit from constructive debate on the key barriers.”

Changes in the market

Since COW05, the offshore market has changed and developed on a technological level, with some of the technical challenges proving more difficult than they first appeared. “It’s no day at the beach, that’s for sure, but on the whole we are still able to look at our challenges as opportunities,” said Holst, outlining some of the issues that the offshore industry still faces. “As an industry we still need to keep working together to look at these opportunities – EOW2007 is an important part of our progress, facilitating the process of maturing the industry,” he added.

For the past two years, DWIA and EWEA have been working in partnership and, more recently, other key partners, including the main German Wind and Engineering Associations and Institutes (BWE, VDMA, FGW, WAB and DEWI) and ministries from Germany, Denmark and Sweden, have also been involved. Together they have developed a conference programme that will entice, enlighten and engage the offshore community.

EOW2007

This event will build on the experiences of COW05 and facilitate debate on the future deployment of offshore wind energy across Europe. Over 1,000 representatives of the offshore wind industry, policy makers and energy specialists will gather to explore and discuss the future of offshore wind energy.

While there are still political barriers, current dialogue offers several potential solutions and there is hope that the necessary enabling frameworks can be created. (Learn more by attending the relevant conference sessions: EU and National Policies, Regional Development, and Market and Industry Development).

Supporting this, the opening session of EOW2007 will enable policy makers from across Europe to exchange views with industry decision makers, creating a unique opportunity to develop constructive dialogue.

In addition, demands for more efficient and reliable offshore technologies are resulting in more innovation and cost-effective solutions to deal with harsh marine environments. (Learn more by attending the relevant conference sessions: Technology, Operations and Maintenance, Grids and Foundations, Standards and Certification).

The EOW2007 Conference programme consists of 22 separate sessions with presentations from over 100 leading experts and decision makers. Additionally, over 100 poster presentations will be showcased. In parallel with the conference sessions, there will be an exhibition with over 60 of the leading companies involved in offshore wind energy.

The conference will also mark the launch of EWEA’s Offshore Report, which presents the Offshore Wind Advisory Group’s policy recommendations for a large-scale deployment of offshore wind in the EU.

Last but not least, EOW2007 will be an excellent opportunity to network with delegates and visitors from 70 countries, enabling discussion and debate with the key players in the wind industry.

Find out more about EOW2007 and register at http://www.eow2007.info/ 

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