Brussels, 13 November 2008
Wind energy will play an essential role in meeting the EU's target for 20% renewable energy by 2020 and achieving a secure, environmentally friendly and affordable supply of energy for European citizens and businesses. The Communication on Offshore Wind Energy identifies the challenges that need to be tackled to exploit Europe's potential for offshore wind energy, and how EU action can help in meeting these challenges. Key themes include the need for more cross-border cooperation to share experiences and coordinate better in fields such as electricity grid and maritime spatial planning, regulatory practices regarding interconnector investments, and environmental impact assessments of wind farms.
Today some EU Member States have already integrated up to 20% of wind energy in their electricity systems, but generally the significant potential for using wind energy for electricity generation remains unused. Wind power is, however, rapidly increasing, and more than 40% of all new electricity generation capacity added to the European grid in 2007 was wind. It is expected that wind energy will represent more than one third of all electricity production from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Land-based wind energy will remain dominant in the immediate future, but installations at sea will become increasingly important. Compared to onshore wind, offshore wind is more complex and costly to install and maintain but also has a number of key advantages. Winds are typically stronger and more prevalent and stable at sea than on land, resulting in significantly higher production per unit installed. At sea, wind turbines can be bigger than on land because of the logistical difficulties of transporting very large turbine components from the place of manufacturing by road to installation sites on land. Finally, wind farms at sea have less potential to cause concern among neighbouring citizens and other stakeholders unless they interfere with competing maritime activities or important marine environmental interests.
The wind resources over Europe's seas represent a vast, indigenous source of clean, renewable energy. By generating electricity without fossil fuel and by creating jobs and growth in a sector in which European businesses are global leaders, offshore wind can make a significant contribution to all three key objectives of the EU's new energy policy: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring security of supply and improving EU competitiveness.
More information here.
Commission web pages on new and renewable energy sources.