If Europe wants to meet its 20% binding target for renewable energy by 2020, it must increase its use of offshore wind, delegates heard today at the opening of the Offshore Wind Conference in Berlin, Germany.
Two concrete steps towards large scale deployment of offshore wind were taken this morning: the European Commission announced an offshore action plan for 2008, and regional cooperation was promoted through the signing of a trilateral offshore research agreement by Germany, Sweden and Denmark.
The 2020 energy target could mean 34% of electricity provided by renewables, according to the European Commission. Wind energy can produce 12% of total electricity - equivalent to more than a third of the electricity target - but only if offshore wind is developed.
In response to the 2020 target, the wind industry has put together a series of policy recommendations for large-scale deployment of offshore wind in the coming 13 years. EWEA launched this new publication, entitled ‘Developing Offshore Wind Power in Europe’, at the opening session of the conference. One key recommendation was the call for a European action plan for offshore wind which was then confirmed by the Commission. Others included establishing stable, long-term markets for offshore wind, increasing research and technological development, improving grid integration and facilitating efficient planning procedures. EWEA’s report estimates that, if barriers are removed, up to 40 GW of offshore wind energy could be operating in the European Union by 2020, supplying 4% of Europe’s electricity.
Speakers at the conference opening session featured prominent political and industry players.
Conference chairman Kaj Lindvig, A2SEA executive officer, introduced the session, saying, “In the 1970s, oil helped us overcome an energy crisis. Today, offshore wind can do the same.”
EWEA president Arthouros Zervos called for a Joint Technology Initiative for offshore wind power. This would use joint public and private partnerships and funds to advance the sector’s development. He said that such an initiative would “create the necessary onshore and offshore infrastructure” and that it “should be considered for the purpose of increasing renewables, reducing carbon emissions and improving the functioning of the internal energy market through larger interconnectors”.
Maud Olofsson, Minister for Enterprise and Energy and Communications, Sweden, said that “actions need to be taken by everyone – governments, researchers, industry and individuals” to tackle the global climate change challenges. She stressed that “a common EU support for offshore wind is needed”, and that industry development should be supported by both EU and national funds.
Minister Olofsson talked about the Swedish government’s recent proposal for a new “ambitious level of 2,500-3,000 MW of offshore wind by 2016”, up from its current total of 135 MW. Its overall renewable electricity target is 17 TWh of renewable electricity by 2016, compared to 2002.
Connie Hedegaard, newly appointed Minister for Climate and Energy, Denmark, said that “already today the Danish wind power industry covers one third of the global market” but that “the Danish government will double the amount of renewable energy in Denmark. The aim is to achieve at least a 30% share of renewables in final energy consumption by 2025. Offshore wind power is likely to be a major contributor.”
Going on to talk about the need for a competitive European electricity market, Hedegaard emphasised the importance of “full ownership unbundling of vertically integrated energy companies for helping increase the renewables share.”
Michael Müller, Parliamentary State Secretary, German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany, said that “no other topic will mark the 21st century as energy will do”.
He talked of the changes currently debated in Germany to help increase offshore wind power capacity, such as increasing feed-in tariffs for offshore. He also said that infrastructure would be built to enable grid access for offshore wind farms.
He gave Germany’s offshore goal: “to add 25,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2030, which will provide 15% of Germany’s energy”.
Malcolm Wicks, UK Energy Minister, said that “energy security is becoming a key component of national security when you look at current geopolitical risks.” He gave the twin challenges as climate change and energy security.
Minister Wicks stated, “25,000 MW of offshore wind capacity have been consented in the last 12 months in the UK”, and added that the country was set to “overtake Denmark in terms of offshore installed capacity in 2008.”
He gave the UK’s “full commitment to meet [its] share” of the 2020 renewables target. He added that “whatever comes out of the current negotiations with the Commission, offshore wind will be a main contributor” to the 20% target.
He mentioned some of the new tools the UK is using to help the development of offshore, such as new independent infrastructure planning and a new regime for the grid: Transmission Systems Operators now have a contribution to make to electricity network investments, he said.
Alfonso Gonzalez Finat, Director, new and renewable sources of energy, energy efficiency & Innovation, European Commission, announced the action plan for offshore wind to be proposed by the Commission in 2008. He also confirmed that the “directive promoting renewables will be issued next month”. Then, he said, Member States would put in place the national plans which would be “divided by sub-sector for electricity, heating & cooling and transport”.
The opening session was followed by a press conference, at which the German Environment Parliamentary State Secretary and the Danish and Swedish Energy Ministers signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation in the Field of Research on Offshore Wind Energy Deployment.
This document was first signed by Germany and Denmark on 10 September 2005, as an open instrument for enhanced cooperation among countries with relevant offshore wind power resources.
EWEA president Arthouros Zervos concluded the press conference by saying that “we have already seen today examples of two of the policy recommendations in EWEA’s new report, with firstly the announcement of an offshore framework which answers EWEA’s call, and secondly the signing of the Joint Declaration, which demonstrates regional cooperation in research.”
Over 1400 people are attending the three day event, organised by EWEA, which is taking place in the Estrel Convention Centre in Berlin until 6 December.
Other sessions cover industry vision, EU national policies, research, grid connection, economic issues, technical issues, social acceptance, case studies and lessons learnt.