Brussels in brief, WW200902
European Parliament and Council endorse Commission’s commitment to offshore grid
The Parliament and Council look set to endorse the European Commission’s Strategic Energy Review (SER) during February. The SER contains a commitment to publish a Blueprint for a North Sea offshore grid, considered a key step forward by the wind industry.
With 1,471 MW of capacity currently installed offshore, investor interest is high, but the sector needs a European legislative framework, including a dedicated offshore grid to reach its full potential.
Despite the growth of the offshore sector, its electrical infrastructure needs to be vastly improved and the overall electricity grid updated and reinforced. Crucially, the European Commission gives one of its aims in the Strategic Energy Review as to "ensure the development of the grid to permit the achievement of the EU's renewable energy objectives".
The SER will provide the basis for an Energy Action Plan, which should be adopted at the Spring Council 2010 and form the new EU energy policy.
The Council has supported the Commission’s paper, particularly the six priority infrastructure actions, including interconnection of the Baltic region, the Mediterranean Energy Ring and the North Sea Offshore Grid. In addition, Council has called for a coordinated approach between Commission and Member States in order to support the large-scale deployment of offshore wind power in the European seas. It had also called for a Sustainable Energy Financing Initiative as a joint Commission and European Investment Bank project to mobilise large-scale funding from capital markets for investments in, amongst others, renewable energies. The Energy Ministers are expected to sign off on the Council response when they meet on 19 February.
The European Parliament endorsed the Commission’s Strategic Energy Review on 3 February welcoming “ the proposal to submit a plan for an offshore network in the North Sea in order to exploit its enormous wind energy potential” and “the creation of a European supergrid”. Indeed, the European Parliament went further than the Commission by calling for a 60% share of renewable energy by 2050, whilst calling wind, and other renewables, “the most important potential sources of energy available to the European Union”.