European countries sign declaration to make North Sea wind power hub

European leaders meet in Belgium to discuss increasing offshore wind power investment.
European leaders meet in Belgium to discuss increasing offshore wind power investment. Copyright AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Copyright AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
By Efi KoutsokostaLauren Chadwick
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Greenpeace Belgium said, however, that a political declaration will not be enough and that they will need to monitor investment year by year in order not to miss their objectives.

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Leaders and ministers from nine European countries signed a declaration in Belgium on Monday to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind power in the North Sea.

The joint goal is to boost offshore wind power generation to 120 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and to at least 300 GW by 2050.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said that the "potential we have in the North Sea in terms of offshore wind is huge."

"It is the best quality offshore wind in the world. And the amount of potential we have is enough to power current Europe electricity demand by six times, there is a huge potential there," Birol added.

More than 100 companies and ministers from Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, and the UK also attended the summit.

Russia's war in Ukraine has made it "clear we need to produce more energy ourselves," said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at a joint press conference between the eight leaders and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

She added that the offshore wind capability would also speed up the green transition.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the attendance of eight European countries plus the United Kingdom at the ministerial level showed "a very real shared commitment to accelerating the transition to a green energy future and harnessing the immense potential of offshore renewables."

"When it comes to climate. the science is very clear, the facts are also very clear on the ground. The world is getting warming severe weather events are becoming more frequent and we have no time to waste in acting. We have to be the generation that turns the tide on climate change and biodiversity," Varadkar added.

The main challenges they will face include funding and the critical raw materials supply chain.

Important step but not simple

"The step that has been taken today is very important from our point of view because it includes heads of state," Jan Vande Putte, Greenpeace Belgium's energy and nuclear campaigner, told Euronews. 

"It is a declaration that is more formal than previous declarations, and I believe, more significant, a much clearer commitment." 

He said that there was a lot of heavy industry and demand in northern Europe: "We really need renewable, reliable and economic sources of energy that can be developed on a very large scale."

Offshore wind is also much more stable than onshore wind.

"It's a good direction, but the ambition should be very high ... But it won't be simple logistically," Vande Putte added. "This will be something to monitor year-by-year to make sure that we have not missed these objectives."

In an industry declaration, more than 100 companies representing offshore wind emphasised ahead of the summit that "major new investments are needed in wind energy manufacturing capacity and supporting infrastructure."

They said current policies are falling short and that there is a need to invest in grids and ports.

Europe can currently manufacture 7 GW of offshore wind turbines a year, according to WindEurope, the association representing the European wind industry. 

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Still, it would need to manufacture 20 GW a year by the second half of the decade to meet the new objectives of the summit.

The summit on Monday was the second North Sea summit the four inaugural countries last year -- Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands -- decided it was necessary to broaden cooperation.

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