Energy Renewables 23 July, 2021 8:00 am   

Sawicki: European Commission wants to make offshore projects more international to achieve climate neutrality

WhatsApp-Image-2019-12-15-at-15.51.295-590×2000 Offshore wind farms. Photo:

Last week the European Commission presented the Fit For 55 package that is to help the European Union to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The Commission proposed to increase the participation of renewable energy sources in energy generation to 40 percent by 2030. One of the key factors that is to significantly contribute to the achievement of this goal is offshore wind that is included in the revised RES regulation. The Commission suggested a few solutions that are to speed up the growth of offshore wind in Europe – writes Bartłomiej Sawicki, editor at

300 GW in offshore

The reference point was the EU strategy on offshore renewable energy with a significant participation of offshore wind energy, which was revealed last year. The strategy on offshore renewable energy introduces an ambitious goal of 300 GW in offshore wind and 40 GW in ocean energy across all EU basins by 2050.

In order to achieve this demanding target, the member states will have to cooperate across sea borders. The new requirements should be included in the updated national plans on energy and climate, that will be presented in 2023 and 2024. The member states should include the potential of offshore renewable energy in every sea basin, environmental protection, adapting to climate change and other ways of using the sea, including meeting EU decarbonization targets.

Moreover, the proposed amendments to the RES directive say that member states should increasingly take into consideration the possibility of combining the generation of green energy at sea with electricity interconnections that will link member states as part of hydrogen projects. “This would allow electricity to flow in different directions, thus maximising socioeconomic welfare, optimising infrastructure expenditure and enabling a more sustainable usage of the sea,” the document says.

The measures taken to promote and increase the participation of offshore wind power include upping the capacity of green offshore energy in Europe from the present 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030 and up to 300 GW by 2050. The goal is also to grow the participation of ocean energy to at least 1 GW by 2030 and 40 GW by 2050.

Implementation plans

Currently, the plans and implementation targets for offshore renewable energy and support measures are generally determined at the national level, whereas regional cooperation is limited and is mostly about exchanging best practices. The Commission proposed to “communitise” the solutions by introducing new possibilities. The options on the table are:

  • No amendments to and maintaining the current policy as part of the REDII directive;
  • The member states being obliged to enter into a non-binding political agreement on cooperation on how much power should be produced from offshore wind in every sea basin by 2050 with intermediary staged in 2030 and 2040;
  • Introducing one-stop shops for the permitting of the generation component of cross-border offshore wind projects per sea basin, where investors could acquire a cross-border permit for offshore wind projects at one sea basin. This proposal would complete the introduction of the one-stop shops in order to issue permits for maritime networks as part of the TEN-E application. Two options are being considered: mandatory joint planning of the offshore capacity for every sea basin (1st variant), and a one-stop shop for issuing permits for cross-border projects (2nd variant). These options could complement one another. The variants would complement the regulations included in the EC’s motion on the updated TEN-E regulation.

As part of the first variant the capacity planning will pertain to one basin only, and so will the preparation, optimization and long-term planning for power transmission. “Such joint planning and cooperation in its rollout can lead to significant cost savings. For instance, for the Baltic Sea region, an analysis study revealed that regional cooperation on offshore power hubs and interconnections could lead to savings of aggregated generation costs of 700–900 million €/year in 2050,” the Directive on the promotion of energy from renewable sources says.

As part of the second variant, the EC proposed agreements between member states for specific sea basins on implementing renewable energy generation and creating “maritime one-stop shops” in order to facilitate and coordinate the process of issuing permits for maritime networks and enhance their coordination. The Commission also proposed a regional approach to planning both the networks as well as power generation capacity.

The updated TEN-E regulation and establishing a one-stop shop for servicing every sea basin, could bring economic benefits to offshore power generation located in more than one EU state, by speeding up the process of permit issuance for such projects. This could help avoid the costly repetition of procedures.

The regulation introduces key measures that are to increase the scale of using maritime energy from renewables in Europe. The updated TEN-E regulation includes four priority maritime corridors around European sea basis and rules for a coordinated, long-term and integrated planning for a maritime and land transmission network.

The proposed changes include cooperation as part of TEN-E and introduce integrated plans for developing maritime areas, which will be included in the ten-year plans for developing networks. With the EC support, the member states will now determine and agree on how much energy from renewable offshore sources they will generate, and how it should be produced in case of every basin by 2050. The progress will be verified in 2030 and 2040. These measures will be based on: national plans on energy and climate, potential of every sea basin when it comes to renewable energy, environmental protection issues, adapting to climate change and other uses of the sea, and EU decarbonization targets.

Poland’s role

Last year in Szczecin all EU members that are located by the Baltic Sea signed a declaration, which could become a forum of cooperation to develop cross-border and hybrid offshore projects. Also in 2020, in December, the operators of transmission networks of the states by the Baltic Sea signed a memorandum on cooperation to develop offshore wind energy, especially maritime transmission networks.

However, at that time Poland’s grid operator PSE decided the initiative was premature, because real plans to develop wind farms in the Baltic were to early to start work on connection grids. In the context of the EC’s plans a question needs to be asked whether PSE would be willing to reconsider its participation.