The EU unveils its offshore energy strategy

Source: Greennews.ie

19 November 2020 

The European Union has presented its nearly €800 billion offshore energy strategy today and aims to increase offshore wind capacity by fivefold over the next ten years.

The bloc is proposing to increase the energy source’s production to at least 60 gigawatts of energy by the end of the decade and to ramp it up to 300 gigawatts by mid-century. 

In addition to this, the Commission aims to utilise 40 GW of ocean energy and other emerging technologies such as floating wind and solar by 2050. 

“With our vast sea basins and industrial leadership, the European Union has all that it needs to rise up to the challenge. Already, offshore renewable energy is a true European success story. 

We aim to turn it into an even greater opportunity for clean energy, high quality jobs, sustainable growth and international competitiveness,” Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said. 

In addition to drastically increasing offshore energy capacity, the proposals will also allow for the protection of biodiversity and to facilitate a “sound coexistence within the maritime space”, according to Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius. 

Regional cooperation as a “guiding principle” 

A coalition of European environmental NGOs welcomed the boosted ambition in the strategy, and stressed that expanding the capacity of offshore wind can be achieved while preserving marine ecosystems. 

In terms of deployment, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Director Wendel Trio noted that “offshore renewable energy does not happen overnight”. 

“Member states have to speed up the planning and work across borders to ensure that near-term action reflects long-term goals. 

Regional cooperation should become the guiding principle for planning and development of offshore renewable energy while reducing to the minimum the impacts on the marine ecosystem,” Mr Trio said. 

Offshore energy in Ireland 

In its governing blueprint, the current Irish Government committed to “introducing a transformational programme of research and development” in offshore floating wind turbines in order to “take advantage of the Atlantic coastline”.

This summer, CorkBeo reported that Simply Blue Energy submitted an application to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of Kinsale that, when completed, is anticipated to have a capacity of up to 1 gigawatt. 

The site would be a key element of the Government’s pledge to increase offshore wind generation up to 5 gigawatts by the end of the decade off the country’s Eastern and Southern coasts. 

The coalition of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party also committed to “develop and demonstrate” tidal and wave power in the document. 

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Kayle Crosson

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