Out-Law News 1 min. read

North Sea states agree on offshore wind expansion through cooperation projects

Countries that have signed up to the North Sea Energy Cooperation have agreed on new targets as part of plans to jointly accelerate the expansion of offshore wind energy in the region.

The nine states signed a joint statement (6-page PDF/749 KB) on 12 September setting out the new targets. According to their statement, wind turbines with 76 gigawatts (GW) of capacity are to be installed in the North Sea by 2030. By 2040, the installed capacity is to increase to 193 GW, and by 2050 to 260 GW. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection said this corresponds to more than 85 % of the EU-wide offshore expansion required for the EU to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

In addition, the energy ministers of the North Sea Energy Cooperation announced that they will increasingly focus on hybrid offshore projects in the future. These are projects that are connected to several member states and provide both wind farms and interconnectors. Interconnectors, also called border interconnection points, are transfer points of two power lines across the national border. In addition, the nine North Sea states agreed to speed up approval procedures at national and European level.

The North Sea Energy Cooperation was founded in 2016 to promote the expansion of offshore wind energy and grid infrastructure. Its member states are Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the European Commission.

"The joint declaration that has now been signed is a strong sign that forces are also being joined at European and international level to accelerate the energy transition," said Christian Lütkehaus, an expert in plant construction in the energy sector at Pinsent Masons. "It is good to see that after the declaration on joint hybrid projects in May, the next step of a 'borderless' European offshore wind expansion is initiated with this cooperation just a few months later."

At the North Sea Energy Summit in May, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands had signed a declaration (5-page PDF/708 KB) which, among other things, provides for joint hybrid offshore wind projects in the North Sea. They also agreed to increase their joint offshore capacity to 65 GW before the end of this decade. By 2050, their installed capacity is to increase to 150 GW.

Germany's contribution to the targets is set out to be at minimum 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030, 40 GW by 2035 and 70 GW by 2045. This corresponds to the expansion targets also envisaged by the country’s new Wind Energy at Sea Act.

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