Europe has taken on the role as a green leader in an effort to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. The new European Commission has set out the ambition to strike a ‘Green Deal’ that will make Europe the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050.
The decarbonisation of Europe will require an urgent and fundamental transformation of Europe’s energy system. Fossil fuels, which made up more than 72% of European primary energy consumption in 2017, will have to be replaced by energy from renewable sources. Green power will also help drive out emissions in sectors harder to abate, such as transport, buildings and industry, through electrification and new, sustainable green fuels.
To do this, solar-, onshore- and offshore wind energy are expected to become the backbone of Europe’s green energy system. This is a big challenge – and a big opportunity.
Decarbonising Europe represents a unique opportunity for a more prosperous, healthier and greener continent. And offshore wind energy in the northern seas plays an important role in a decarbonised European energy system.
For offshore wind energy this means up to 450GW of installed capacity by 2050, delivering a quarter of Europe’s green electricity, up from 20GW today. The current ‘business as usual’ projection points to less than 150GW installed capacity by midcentury. To achieve 450GW of European offshore wind energy by 2050 will require a steep change in the buildout rate for offshore wind energy.
A new ‘Green Deal’ approach for offshore wind
The current approach based on national and often project specific planning has worked well until now. However, the scale needed to buildout 450GW by 2050 requires a shift in the approach to offshore wind development.
At Ørsted, we see three questions that must be addressed to facilitate an accelerated offshore wind buildout:
1. How do we find the space for 450GW of offshore wind generation?
2. How do we ensure sufficient transmission capacity to deliver offshore wind energy to Europeans?
3. How do we enable the industry to scale?
Answering these questions is a prerequisite, if we are to deliver a Green Deal for Europe. It will require strong cooperation between all relevant stakeholders. With this paper, we want to point to the direction where we believe the answers can be found.
We look forward to working with governments, industry, NGO’s and communities to develop a new approach to building offshore wind energy, allowing Europe to become a climate neutral continent by 2050.