Looking out to sea by Christian Kjaer (EWEA)

The strongest and most constant winds are to be found offshore, as anyone who has been on a boat out at sea will know. If all this ferocious movement could be captured and transformed into electricity, it would meet the whole world’s power needs.

In addition to their massive power-producing potential, offshore winds offer an indigenous energy supply for Europe. Rather than shelling out unpredictable sums for oil and gas, the money can be used to develop a technology which come at a knowable price, creates jobs and strengthens the EU economy.

Offshore wind energy technology is making the transition from a concept with massive potential to a fast-evolving industry with increasing investment and political support. Europe leads the sector. In 2008, 357 MW of offshore capacity was installed, taking the global total to 1,471 MW – all in European waters.

The burgeoning sector is being recognised at EU level. In its second Strategic Energy Review in 2008, the European Commission announced a blueprint would be developed for a North Sea offshore wind power grid.

In January 2009, the EU recognised that offshore wind could help extricate Europe from the economic crisis, proposing €565 million to specific offshore projects in its Economic Recovery Plan.

A key conference It is a fi tting moment to celebrate what has been achieved and refl ect on the next steps. We will do so at the European Offshore Wind Conference and Exhibition 2009 in Stockholm from 14 to 16 September with the expected 3,000 participants.

The conference will examine how offshore wind energy is progressing and present practical steps forward, emphasising the importance of grid integration, industrial development and environmental and administrative considerations.

We will welcome over 2,000 participants. Moreover, the event will see the launch of EWEA’s latest offshore report, which will focus
on our new 2020 and 2030 offshore targets and what they mean economically, environmentally and industrially.

Green is the future of power The development of the offshore sector depends to a large extent on political initiative and action. However, the ordinary consumer – you, me, or Mr Jones next door – can also have an impact on the renewable energy sector by choosing to switch to a green electricity provider that promises to invest in renewables.

Many utilities now offer a green tariff, and green electricity companies mostly report an upwards trend in new customers over the last few years, as green power has become a common lifestyle choice. Some individuals have gone further still and designed eco-houses  and some companies are investing in eco-buildings, including their own solar panels.

Join the debate

The last few years have clearly been a period of evolution and forward movement for the wind energy sector, with onshore wind energy becoming the mainstream source of power and offshore wind energy maturing fast. From the office worker who decides to do his bit by switching to a green electricity provider, to the EU decision-maker who debates the finest policy details of potential future legislation, wind power offers oceans of opportunity for everyone.

For more information on the European Offshore Wind Conference,
see www.offshorewind2009.info