Recovery investment in offshore wind shows its strategic importance for Europe

The €565 million investment in nine offshore wind energy projects and infrastructure – approved yesterday by the European Commission as part of its European Economic Recovery Plan – shows that the European Union sees the offshore wind industry as a strategic sector for Europe’s future, said the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“Measures such as these can contribute to strengthening Europe’s competitive lead in wind power at a time of economic uncertainty and in which strong financial measures are being taken by governments outside Europe to challenge European companies’ leadership position”, said Christian Kjaer, CEO of EWEA. “As Europe’s largest untapped energy source, offshore wind can contribute significantly to Europe’s economic recovery, reduce import dependence and slash CO2 emissions.”

The announcement yesterday also helped Europe edge closer to European Commission President Barroso’s vision for an electricity supergrid, with the Commission’s announcement that over half of the Plan’s €565 million for offshore wind projects will be spent on offshore electricity interconnections.

The cables between the Netherlands and Denmark, an offshore platform on the planned HVDC link between Shetland and the Scottish mainland to connect offshore wind, as well as Krieger’s Flak in the Baltic Sea, are key to the development of a new offshore wind industry – enabling new offshore wind farms to hook up to the cables. These interconnections will not only enable a greater cross-border flow of the electricity produced by the many offshore wind farms in the North Sea, but they will also further the integration of Europe’s power markets, improve competition and lower prices for the European consumer.

Three more projects that were recently advanced would link Norway with the UK, Norway with Germany and the UK with the Netherlands.

“There is still much work to do, but all these projects are significant steps towards the construction of a European supergrid, as envisaged by President Barroso in his political guidelines for the next Commission,” added Kjaer. “A European offshore grid would be good news for the consumer as it would dramatically improve competition and move us a step further towards a real internal market in electricity.”

EWEA research shows that existing and planned European offshore wind projects would, if implemented, supply 10% of Europe’s electricity whilst avoiding over 200 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year. EWEA recently published a master plan for building a North Sea Grid, and urges the Commission and Transmission System Operators to take on board its recommendations.

This week has seen a growing momentum for developing offshore wind and an electricity supergrid in the North Sea with a political declaration between nine countries at the EU Energy Council, a major EIB investment and yesterday’s Commission announcement. 

Commission approves over €1,5bn for 15 CCS and off-shore wind projects to support European economic recovery

The Commission approved today 15 energy projects which will significantly contribute to the economic recovery of the EU, while increasing our security of energy supply and substantially reduce CO2 emissions. With today’s decision, the Commission grants €1 billion to six Carbon Capture and Storage projects and €565 million to nine offshore wind energy projects.

Energy Commissioner Piebalgs said: "With this decision the Commission has laid the foundation for the development of two key sustainable technologies that will be essential in our fight against climate change. This unique decision by the Commission does not only give a push to the economy and employment, but also it supports innovative energy technologies that may create further jobs and growth in the future."

By promoting the technology of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) the Commission recognises the continued importance of fossil fuelled power and the need to adapt to a low carbon energy system. The offshore wind energy projects enhance the development and consolidation of a competitive offshore wind industry in Europe and create numerous green jobs.

These award winning innovative energy technology projects will contribute in reaching the binding targets of greenhouse gas emission reduction and renewables by 2020 and beyond.

The decision on these 15 projects is the first step towards the good use of almost €4 billion set aside by the EU in May 2009 for energy projects to support economic recovery. The landmark agreement on the European Energy Programme for Recovery in May foresaw Union financial assistance to energy projects in the fields of CCS, offshore wind energy and gas and electricity infrastructure. The procedures for the infrastructure projects are still ongoing. The decision is expected to be taken in February 2010.