The six countries encircling the North Sea – the UK, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium – currently have 43GW of sea-based turbines in operation and under construction. But whether their joint target of tripling this by 2030 and six-fold by 2050 to turn the basin into 'Europe’s biggest green power plant' is workable, remains to be seen.
By Victoria Toft
The most mature offshore wind markets in the world still have an appetite for big build-out: the UK wants 50GW installed by 2030, with Germany and the Netherlands aiming for 30GW and 21GW, respectively, by then. Look out a couple of decades, and the aspirations are even greater: Britain has not set a 2050 goal but its climate advisory body, the Climate Change Committee, has calculated it needs 125GW of sea-based plant to reach net-zero by this date, while Germany and the Netherlands have set targets of 70GW by 2045 and 2050, respectively.
The political will would appear to be there, with this spring's North Sea Summit in Ostend, Belgium, ending in a joint declaration on offshore wind deployment of 120GW by 2030 and 300GW by 2050. And this is backed by a large pipeline of projects with secured site exclusivity at different stages of development in the region, with auctions for over 70GW slated from now to the end of the decade.
Yet even with the massive construction campaign now gathering pace in the northern seas, there remains a substantial gap between 2030 targets and even the capacity to come under the gavel in these nations' planned offshore wind auctions.
Given the long lead-times linked to design, procurement and construction of offshore wind farms, the clock is ticking ever louder. Megaprojects, such as the 3.6GW Dogger Bank off the UK and numerous other gigascale developments in northern European waters, will be key to expanding clean power production for Europe's energy transition and, crucially, accelerating the industrial transformation necessary to support it.
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