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Offshore energy could cover 10% of Europe's electricity needs, report states

A new report published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) predicts that European offshore wind projects - both existing and planned - could soon supply 10% of Europe's electricity. The report, entitled 'Oceans of opportunity', was presented at the European Offshore...
Offshore energy could cover 10% of Europe's electricity needs, report states
A new report published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) predicts that European offshore wind projects - both existing and planned - could soon supply 10% of Europe's electricity. The report, entitled 'Oceans of opportunity', was presented at the European Offshore Wind 2009 conference in Stockholm, Sweden on 14 September.

The total of offshore wind energy projects that have been proposed and are currently being developed have the potential to provide over 100 gigawatts (GW), spread across 18 European countries, 15 of which are Member States. According to the EWEA, these 100 GW will produce 373 terawatt hours (TWh) and help avoid over 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year.

In order to achieve this goal, the EWEA report calls on the European Commission, Member State governments, regulators, transmission-system operators and the wind industry to coordinate their efforts in both the implementation of projects and the support of related research and development (R&D). Coordinated action is also needed to overcome supply-chain bottlenecks that slow down the timely implementation of projects, the report reads.

The EWEA suggests the introduction of a European offshore wind energy payment mechanism in the form of a voluntary action undertaken by relevant Member States and coordinated by the European Commission. Such a mechanism could accelerate development of technology and attract investors.

The EWEA report also stresses that a change of mindset is required with reference to electrical grids: 'We must stop thinking of electrical grids as national infrastructure and start developing them - onshore and offshore - to become European corridors for electricity trade.'

At the Stockholm conference, Swedish Minister for Enterprise and Energy Maud Olofsson, representing the current Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, said of offshore wind energy: 'The resource is there and the developers are ready. Provided governments are ready to play their part, we can revolutionise Europe's energy future.'

In turn, European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs assured offshore energy stakeholders of Commission support: 'Harnessing the winds off Europe's coasts [...] would provide an answer to the global challenges of climate change: depleting indigenous energy resources, increasing fuel costs and the threat of energy supply disruptions. The European Commission is committed to doing everything we can to support offshore-wind developers and make sure the planned projects come to fruition.'

Referring to the first-ever Commission Communication specifically dedicated to offshore wind energy, Commissioner Piebalgs remarked: 'At EU level, this genuine political commitment to offshore wind is relatively new, but [it has been] very robustly demonstrated during the mandate of the current European Commission.' The Communication, 'Offshore wind energy: action needed to deliver on the Energy Policy Objectives for 2020 and beyond', was adopted at the end of 2008.

Increased financial support from the Commission was approved in May 2009, when EUR 565 million were allocated to offshore wind energy-related projects from the 2009 and 2010 budgets of the Economic Recovery Plan for Europe.

'This is the beginning of what I believe will be a significant scaling-up of financial resources dedicated to low-carbon energy technologies,' Commissioner Piebalgs stated. 'Increased funding is an important pre-condition for boosting innovation related to offshore wind, so as to further reduce costs and maintain Europe's global leadership in this field.' The Commissioner called on EU Member States to put in place specific support mechanisms in accordance with their National Renewable Energy Action Plans to ensure the viability of projects.

Source: European Wind Energy Association; European Commission

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