Offshore wind key to European Green Deal

Increasing offshore wind production and regional cooperation between member states will be key to reducing European Union (EU) greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% from 1990 levels by 2030, according to the European Commission (EC).

European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the European Green Deal in Brussels

The EC has increased its target of reducing emissions for 2030 by at least 50% "and towards 55%" — up from the existing target of 40% — before reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, in the new European Green Deal.

Between 1990 and 2018, emissions in the EU fell by 23%, according to the document, unveiled by EC president Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, Belgium today (11 December).

The commission said a power sector based largely on renewables, the rapid phase-out of coal and decarbonising the gas sector will be crucial as the production and use of energy accounts for more than 75% of the EU’s GHG emissions.

Falling costs of renewables and "improved" design of support policies across the bloc have already reduced the cost impact on households, the EC added.

Offshore wind will play a key role in creating a clean energy system in Europe, the commission said, as will the smart integration of renewables and energy efficiency measures.

Wind power sector leaders welcomed the European Green Deal, arguing the up-to 55% target was possible with existing technologies, but cautioned that the energy transition must be fair.

"The Green Deal will only achieve its goal if it has a strong European wind market connected through a strong grid, and underpinned by an industrial strategy for wind at its core," said Vestas CEO Henrik Andersen. 

An industrial strategy addressing the challenges of the green and digital transformations will be published in 2020.

Meanwhile, Vattenfall’s senior vice president for wind, Gunnar Groebler, that the energy transition must be "just" and "will need to take everybody along".

He added job creation in areas previously dependent on other sectors, such as coal or shipbuilding, could help.

Iberdrola’s director for renewable energy Xabier Viteri Solaun said the technologies needed to reduce emissions already exist.

"The objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by up to 55% for 2030 now puts Europe on a realistic trajectory to 2050," Solaun said.