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Baltic co-operation key to becoming offshore leader

EUROPE: The Baltic Sea has the potential for 40GW of offshore wind power capacity, but only if the countries bordering it work together.

There is enough offshore wind power potential in the Baltic Sea to meet the renewables targets for all the countries in the region, according to a recent study.

Even taking into account estimates on known environmental and other constraints, 40GW of offshore wind capacity is possible, concludes the report by the Baltic Sea Region Energy Co-operation (Basrec). This would be enough to make the region a world leader in offshore energy deployment, should there be the political ambition.

"For the first time, a review has been undertaken of the potential that exists in the Baltic Sea for offshore wind power and set against the policy objectives of each country," said Jorg Neubauer, a project manager working for the Swedish Energy Agency, which has been involved in developing the study.

The study of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, Russia and the European Commission gives deployment potential and relative attractiveness of areas considered favourable for offshore wind, with Finland showing the greatest potential (18.3GW), followed by Denmark (9.2GW), Sweden (4.5GW) and Estonia (3.1GW).

With the current infrastructure such as grids and existing plans for development, the report concludes that there is enough technical and economic potential to meet the Baltic Sea offshore policy objectives outlined in the Energy Action Plans of each country, totalling 4.3GW.

However, in order to become a world leading offshore region, the Baltic Sea area would require much greater levels of policy and regulation harmonisation, dramatically strengthened research and development, the introduction of a common consenting approach and development of an integrated grid across the region.

The study recommends that Basrec define a long-term strategy and action plan for the region's offshore wind deployment for 2020 and beyond.

The report was delivered to a meeting in May on energy policy in the Baltic Sea, attended by the European commissioner for energy and energy ministers from the 11 countries. The ministers looked at identifying potential areas for regional co-operation to increase the security of supply and develop sustainable energy systems for the future.

In a joint statement after the meeting the members of Basrec expressed their commitment to developing and strengthening co-operation to continue integration of the energy markets to develop the energy infrastructure and to ensure competitive, stable and secure energy supply and predictable demand in the Baltic Sea region. One of eight areas of focus to 2015 is to "increased use of renewable resources available in the region, including integration of fluctuating wind power into the electricity system".

The report was broadly welcomed by the wind industry. "We hope that ... the fact that the Baltic Sea region is highly attractive for the development of offshore wind, will be taken on by the policymakers and incorporated into future discussion," said Albert Sein, strategy and business development manager at E.on Wind Sweden. "This report is a good high level investigation, but not a detailed and specific recommendation for sites and locations."

Of the 141GW projects identified in European waters by the European Wind Energy Association, either online, under construction, consented or planned, 14% - or 20GW - is located in the Baltic Sea. Estonia and Latvia have 1.2GW offshore wind projects in the pipeline, already consented. Poland and Finland have 760MW of consented projects, while Sweden, Germany and Denmark already have operational offshore wind farms, with more planned.

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