The European Commission has set a target of 300GW of offshore wind by 2050 as part of plans to substantially grow the amount of offshore renewable energy across the continent.
On 19 November, it presented the EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy, which also sets a goal for an additional contribution of at least 40GW from ocean energy renewables, such as floating wind and solar. The ambitious growth is based on the vast potential across all of Europe’s sea basins, together with the global leadership of EU companies in the sector. It will lead to new opportunities for industry, green jobs across Europe and strengthen the EU’s global leadership in offshore energy technologies, as well as ensuring the protection of the environment, biodiversity and fisheries.
It stressed that Europe has a major opportunity to substantially increase renewable power generation, with offshore renewable energy among the renewable technologies with the greatest potential to scale up.
This would see an increase in the direct use of electricity for a wider array of end uses and support wider decarbonisation through the production of green hydrogen and synthetic fuels, as set out within the Energy System Integration and Hydrogen Strategies. The EU’s Hydrogen Strategy, it noted, set a goal of 40GW of renewables-linked electrolysis capacity in the EU by 2030.
In the interim, the EU’s Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy is aiming to grow the current 12GW of offshore wind to 60GW by 2030, as well as having 1GW of ocean energy installed by that date, with a view to reaching 300GW and 40GW respectively by 2050.
Achieving the objectives will deliver major gains in terms of decarbonising electricity generation, enabling decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors with renewable hydrogen, and delivering major benefits in terms of jobs and growth. This would contribute to the post Covid-19 recovery and position the EU as a leader in clean technologies.
Acknowledging that reaching these targets will call for a “massive change of scale” for the sector in less than 30 years, at an unparalleled speed, the strategy also set out how the Commission plans to promote scale-up of offshore energy capacity, including encouraging cross-border cooperation between Member States on long-term planning and deployment.
It forecast that almost €800bn will be needed between now and 2050 to achieve the proposed aims and pledged to provide a clear and supportive legal framework to support this. Other forms of support will include ensuring that revisions of the State Aid guidelines on energy and environmental protection and of the Renewable Energy Directive facilitate cost-effective deployment of renewable offshore energy; mobilising all relevant funds to support the sector’s deployment; encouraging Member States to use the Recovery and Resilience Facility, as well as working together with the European Investment Bank and other financial institutions to support investments in offshore energy through InvestEU; and ensuring a strengthened supply chain.