Offshore plan: a green future with North Sea wind?
Nine European countries on Sunday agreed on a megaproject to expand offshore wind energy production in the North Sea. Investments of more than 800 billion euros are planned to boost output step by step. The plan is to generate 300 gigawatt (GW) of energy annually by 2050. The project is financed by the EU and the participating states. Commentators see the project above all as a Herculean task.
The effort will pay off
La Vanguardia says Spain should follow suit:
“The megaproject is important both because of the green electricity and because it sends a message of cooperation between European countries in the move away from fossil fuels. ... European industry will need to produce the equivalent of 20 GW per year, but it currently only has the capacity for seven GW. This could help create up to 250,000 jobs. So it will entail enormous effort. But this effort will make Europe a pioneer in this technology. Spain should follow suit, albeit on land rather than at sea. Its huge capacity for solar power generation could make it an important electricity supplier for the rest of Europe.”
China could soon dominate production
Europe has no time to lose in the production of wind turbines, La Libre Belgique urges:
“According to the International Energy Agency IEA, global wind power capacity will need to be boosted if the world is to move towards carbon neutrality. In addition to the climate issue, this is also about jobs. [Belgium’s Premier] Alexander De Croo might have welcomed European expertise in offshore wind energy but China threatens to dominate the sector. According to the IEA, China’s market share in the production of rotor blades, nacelles and towers could rise to 60 to 80 percent by 2030. So Europe should not only set its sights on becoming a major market, but also a major supplier.”
An arduous path ahead
De Morgen sees a path beset with procedural obstacles:
“The weakest link when it comes to the success of wind energy is, well, us humans. To harness the power of offshore wind, it must first be brought to land and distributed. This requires installations and authorisations. And wherever authorisations are needed, there will be delays and procedural issues. ... All the plans for green energy projects are infused with a ‘yes we can!’ attitude. This may be inspiring, but we shouldn’t let it blind us. The summit might indeed be scalable, but the path has only just been laid and the ascent is pretty much vertical.”
A drop in the ocean
It’s not just the lack of Russian gas that is driving the expansion, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung stresses:
“The real reason for the North Sea fever is that people are gradually realising just how much energy Europe will need one climate-friendly day, if it is to maintain its wealth and industry. The North Sea as a green power station, however, will not be nearly enough. ... Upward corrections to the 800 billion euros calculated by the wind energy sector and the EU Commission are therefore on the cards — and that’s just for investments in the North Sea and inland.”