Traffic passes onshore wind turbines on the Shepham Wind Farm near Pevensey, UK. Picture:BLOOMBERG CHRIS RATCLIFFE
Traffic passes onshore wind turbines on the Shepham Wind Farm near Pevensey, UK. Picture:BLOOMBERG CHRIS RATCLIFFE

Brussels — The EU unveiled plans on Thursday to transform its electricity system to rely mostly on renewables within a decade and increase its offshore wind energy capacity 25-fold by 2050.

Renewable sources such as wind and solar provide about a third of EU electricity, but the EU says that share will need to expand to about two-thirds by 2030 to put the bloc on track for its plan to become climate neutral by 2050.

The European Commission said in its offshore renewable energy plan that the EU's climate-change targets required 60GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 300GW by 2050. That is a five-fold increase by 2030 and a 25-fold increase by 2050 from its offshore wind capacity of 12GW.

Projects would be pushed out by individual countries in the 27-nation bloc. The EU document said all seas bordering EU nations — the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean and Atlantic — had potential for wind generation.

The North Sea has led the way, with Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark among the EU’s main offshore producers.

The biggest offshore wind producer in Europe is Britain, which has left the EU. Its installed wind capacity of about 10GW and its expansion plans were not included in the strategy.

The commission outlined plans for 40GW of EU wave and tidal energy by 2050, lower than a draft plan to build 60GW but still a leap from the 13MW operating today.

“Our aims are ambitious, but with our vast sea basins and our global industrial leadership, the EU has all that it needs to meet the challenge,” EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said.

Expanding offshore renewable energy will require investment worth nearly €800bn by 2050, mostly from private capital, to build mammoth new wind farms at sea and scale up nascent technology such as floating turbines.

The EU said it would propose rules to better co-ordinate countries’ power grids at sea and enable offshore bidding zones for wind farms that supply power to multiple countries.

The commission said targets could be met by using less than 3% of EU maritime space, though campaigners say expanding offshore energy should not harm marine habitats.

“We need clean energy just as much as we need healthy seas,” said Sergiy Moroz, European Environmental Bureau senior policy officer.


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