Nine northern European countries have approved a new North Sea Energy Cooperation (NSEC) Action Agenda that is designed to coordinate their efforts and support the next phase of the development of offshore wind energy in the North Sea.
The countries met in The Hague to set out a plan that they said would increase predictability, create better coordination, and lead to an integrated energy system in 2050.
The NSEC comprises Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. It was joined by the European Commission and the UK, which was attending as a guest.
The plan calls for auctioning around 15 GW of offshore energy capacity each year. By 2030, the goal is to award almost 100 GW. The participants believed that the North Sea had the potential to be the “Green Power Plant” for Europe.
EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simon said that “our discussions today showed the joint determination and commitment to continue the work to deliver on our offshore ambitions, and to take the work forward to boost the competitiveness of this vital sector”.
The meeting and “Action Agenda” approval were in part in response to recently emerging cost challenges for the industry, which had been identified by the participating countries during two meetings held this year. They acknowledged that the offshore wind sector increasingly was experiencing challenges such as high inflation and increased resource prices, limited availability of labour, and complex licensing systems.
A recent study, noted by the meeting, by Royal Haskoning DHV indicated that, without additional common action, the current and planned capacity of harbours surrounding the North Seas was insufficient to reach the targets of 2030.
Among the specific steps identified in the action plan was collective tender planning by NSEC participants.
The agenda was presented to the EU. The next step in January 2024 will be the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), which will publish a shared plan for infrastructure in the North Sea. The plan includes input from NSEC countries and takes into account the need for a fair balance with other sectors and users in the North Sea, such as the fishing and transport industry.