European Council backs large-scale deployment of offshore wind
The European Council today endorsed the European Commission’s Strategic Energy Review (SER) of November 2008, which contained its commitment to publish a blueprint for a North Sea grid. In today’s conclusions, the Council described work on this offshore grid as a “priority action”. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) considers the development of offshore wind and its integration into the electricity network key to achieving the EU’s 20% renewables targets by 2020.
There is currently 1,471 MW of installed offshore wind capacity, all of it in European waters. There is enough wind blowing over the seas to supply all of our power, yet without an offshore grid and increased interconnector capacity to transport power to consumers, this vast potential will remain untapped. The Commission’s proposal in the SER to develop a blueprint for a North Sea offshore grid was seen by the wind industry as a vital move and is backed up by the Council, which today gave its aim to promote a coordinated approach between the Commission and the Member States in order to support “the large-scale deployment of offshore wind power while preserving the reliability of the grid”.
"The Council has taken the commendable step of supporting the Strategic Energy Review’s commitment to renewables and, especially, offshore wind”, commented EWEA Chief Executive Christian Kjaer. “In its conclusions, Council confirms the EU’s need to turn to an indigenous energy supply and to ‘promote renewables and tackle barriers to energy from renewable sources’. These actions are essential for increasing our use of renewables and so boosting the EU’s energy security, reducing our fuel imports, avoiding CO₂ emissions and carbon costs, creating jobs and putting money to work at home rather than spending it on importing fuel from unstable regions abroad.”
In its conclusions the Council also proposed that the Commission prepare a Sustainable Energy Financing Initiative with the European Investment Bank to mobilise large-scale funding from capital markets for investments in renewable energies.
The SER will provide the basis for the next Energy Action Plan, to be adopted by the new European Commission and form the new EU energy policy.