In September 2020, eight Baltic countries (Poland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia) signed a joint declaration with the Commission to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy in the region, and the Energy Cooperation of The North Seas should help them build on the successes of offshore wind in the North Sea as well as in the UK.
The Polish government adopted its offshore wind energy bill in late November, which aims to simplify administrative procedures for the construction of 5.9 GW of offshore wind in Polish waters by 2030 with wind turbines. The bill is now at the end of the legislative process and is expected to become law as of January 2021.
Timo Tatar, Deputy Secretary General of Estonia announced on December 3 at WindTV, WindEurope’s annual event, that Estonia and Latvia will hold a joint auction for their joint offshore wind farm in 2026. “The plan is to create a hub where other projects in the region can participate. This saves costs and allows the electricity collected at sea to reach the right place, not just to the closest point on land, ”he added.
Then on December 14, Germany and Denmark announced that they will increase their cooperation in offshore wind power and renewable hydrogen. The two countries are already working to connect their two offshore wind farms in the vicinity of “Kriegers Flak” in the Baltic with grid connections to both Germany and Denmark, and possibly one to Sweden at a later stage.
The Baltic Sea has incredible potential for offshore wind in Europe, and could host up to 93 GW by 2050, up from 2.2 GW today.
In addition to providing clean and cheap electricity to the Baltic Sea countries, offshore wind power will support the economic recovery of central and eastern Europe in general, ensuring long-term growth and employment. Landlocked countries in the region will also benefit from offshore wind power. And southeastern countries such as Bulgaria and Romania are tapping into the potential of the Black Sea: Romania is finalizing its first Offshore Wind Law, paving the way for new offshore wind energy in the basin.
The 27 EU Member States have recently endorsed their collective support for further action on offshore wind, in two separate sets of Council Conclusions:
On 11 December, Member States adopted Council Conclusions on “promoting European cooperation in the field of renewable energy and offshore”. The Council welcomed the European Commission’s offshore renewable energy strategy and recognized the need for further integration of the internal energy market, calling on the Commission to work on an “enabling framework” for hybrid and cross-border offshore projects.
Subsequently, the Council also adopted independent Conclusions on building a hydrogen market for Europe, in support of the EU Hydrogen Strategy of July 2020. These Conclusions emphasized that renewable hydrogen, produced from renewable energies as wind and solar must take precedence over other forms of hydrogen.
Turning the North Sea before them, Central and Eastern European governments will have to invest massively in network infrastructure, both on land and offshore, as well as in ports. National recovery plans offer a great opportunity for these investments.