Renewables: Offshore wind energy: North Sea summit to boost expansion

Germany and other countries want to turn the North Sea into Europe's green power plant by building wind farms.

Renewables: Offshore wind energy: North Sea summit to boost expansion

Germany and other countries want to turn the North Sea into Europe's green power plant by building wind farms. At a summit meeting in the Belgian coastal town of Ostend today, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and heads of state and government from eight other countries want to push ahead with the expansion of wind energy at sea. The aim of the so-called North Sea Summit is to make the North Sea the largest energy supplier in Europe by 2050. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is also expected to attend the meeting.

The nine countries involved - in addition to Germany and Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and Great Britain - together have more than 175,000 kilometers of coastline. "They all share the desire to become less dependent on the use of fossil energy sources and to make the North Sea a major production site for renewable energies," the federal government said before the meeting.

Recently only slow expansion

Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo explained that the plan is for these countries to collectively achieve 134 gigawatts of offshore capacity by 2030. By 2050 it should be more than 300 gigawatts. According to the Belgian government, the value was around 30 gigawatts last year. 8 gigawatts came from Germany, most of it from the North Sea. France, Norway and Ireland, on the other hand, each produced significantly less than 1 gigawatt.

The expansion of offshore wind energy has only progressed slowly in Germany and the EU. Germany set itself new goals last year. An installed capacity of at least 30 gigawatts by 2030 and at least 70 gigawatts by 2045 is now planned.

De Croo was not campaigning for new goals, but for their speedy implementation. It should be about working together better, standardizing procedures and thus accelerating the construction of wind farms. "The faster we build these parks, the faster we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said. At the same time, the summit is supposed to be about protecting offshore installations against acts of sabotage, for example.

"Renewable Energy Hub"

Researcher Simone Tagliapietra from the Brussels think tank Bruegel believes that converting the region's steady winds into renewable and affordable energy for millions of homes is the right approach. The North Sea has the potential to become a "hub for renewable energies". To do this, however, politicians must attract investments from the private sector and at the same time invest in infrastructure such as power grids, simplify requirements and issue permits more quickly.

"I think the targets are ambitious in themselves, but that's the kind of ambition that we need in Europe if we want to reach net zero," said Tagliapietra. The EU wants to become climate neutral by 2050.

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