WindEurope Offshore 2019: 450GW target needs grid action

Deploying up to 450GW in European waters by 2050 is possible with sufficient investments made in electricity grids and maritime spatial planning, according to a report released at the WindEurope Offshore 2019 conference in Copenhagen.

The 450GW target would require a more-than 20-fold increase from Europe's offshore wind fleet today (pic credit: RWE)

This would be more than a 20-fold increase from the approximately 20GW of existing offshore wind capacity currently installed in European waters, the industry body stated.

WindEurope prepared the report for the European Commision, when asked what role offshore wind could play in delivering climate neutrality by mid-century.

Different approaches to maritime spatial planning would be needed to help the offshore wind sector make the most of cost reductions, the industry body stated.

It also argued that investments in offshore grids would need to quadruple from 2030 to provide enough transmission capacity for the offshore wind fleet.

Visibility on project pipelines, auction schedules and revenue schemes would give companies the certainty needed to make investments, and ensure the growth of the supply chain, WindEurope stated.

The industry body suggested that 212GW could be installed in the North Sea by 2050, 85GW in the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, 83GW in the Baltic and 70GW in the Mediterranean and southern European waters. 

This level of build-out would require annual investments in offshore grid increasing from less than €2 billion forecast in 2020 to €8 billion by 2030, the industry body calculated.

Capital expenditure on offshore wind, including grids, would need to rise from about €6 billion in 2020 to €23 billion by 2030 and €45 billion thereafter, WindEurope stated.

In the report, the industry body explained that space set aside for fishing or military activities currently precludes offshore wind development from 40% of the North Sea, including some optimal sites.

Developing regulatory frameworks that would allow a single project to have grid connections in more than one country could help pool assets and infrastructure, and reduce costs, WindEurope argued.

Dickson added: "The wind industry is ready to expand the supply chain provided governments give long-term visibility on volumes and likely revenues," said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson..

"The grid investments are also manageable, provided governments coordinate them.

"And on maritime spatial planning, we need a long-term approach with climate priorities at its heart. And more multiple use, for example, by allowing fishing in offshore wind farms," he said.

"Do all this, and we can deliver the scenarios that the Commission and the IEA has set."