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Nine European countries discuss increasing offshore wind power in North Sea

A fisher boat passes wind turbines between the island Langeoog and Bensersiel at the North Sea coast in Germany, on May 15, 2019
A fisher boat passes wind turbines between the island Langeoog and Bensersiel at the North Sea coast in Germany, on May 15, 2019 Copyright Martin Meissner/AP Photo
Copyright Martin Meissner/AP Photo
By Lauren ChadwickEuronews
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Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Luxembourg, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom are meeting in Belgium for the North Sea Summit.

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Nine European countries are meeting on Monday at a summit dedicated to making the North Sea the "largest green energy centre in Europe" by accelerating the deployment of offshore wind turbines.

"Our goal is clear: build the world’s largest green energy plant in the North Sea," said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, one of the participants, in a statement.

"By joining hands, we will accelerate the energy transition, strengthen our technological leadership and provide millions of European households and businesses with zero-carbon energy."

Belgium, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands agreed at last year's North Sea Summit to quadruple their combined electricity production at sea to at least 150 GW by 2050.

This second summit in Ostend, a coastal city in Belgium, will add France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway and the United Kingdom to the discussions.

The heads of state and government will discuss speeding up the development of offshore wind power to fight climate change. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not attend the summit but a delegation led by energy secretary Grant Shapps was present.

In a joint statement published in Politico, the nine European leaders said their target for offshore wind in the North Seas was "120 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, and a minimum of 300 gigawatts by 2050".

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who also attended the Belgium summit on Monday, said the countries had "a shared ambition to work together and to boost offshore wind production."

"Of course, the wind that is harnessed by the turbines in the North Sea will help power Europe’s clean tech industry. It will provide secure and affordable energy to Europeans," she added.

The Netherlands and the United Kingdom announced ahead of the summit a new interconnection to link a Dutch offshore wind farm to the UK, a deal hailed as "historic."

'Major investments needed'

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

"We need to massively ramp up European wind supply chains by target industrial policy measures and adequate support instruments," said Sven Utermöhlen, the chair of WindEurope.

Last month, EU countries and MEPs agreed to double the production of renewables by the end of the decade.

The share of renewable energy in the EU's overall energy consumption will need to be 42.5% by 2030 with an additional "aspirational" 2.5% top-up in a bid to reach 45%. The new rules are part of the Fit for 55 legislative package to slack EU emissions by 55% by 2030.

In 2021, renewable energy represented 21.8 % of energy consumed in the EU, according to Eurostat. Wind accounted for 37.5% of the total electricity generated from renewable sources.

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