Photo: Illustration/D10 tidal turbine developed by French company Sabella (Courtesy of Sabella/Balao)

EU targets 40 GW of ocean energy and other emerging technologies by 2050

The European Commission has presented the EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy which sets a goal of reaching 40 GW of installed capacity for ocean energy, and other emerging technologies like floating wind and solar, by 2050.

A photo illustration showing D10 tidal turbine developed by French company Sabella (Courtesy of Sabella/Balao)
Illustration/D10 tidal turbine developed by French company Sabella (Courtesy of Sabella/Balao)

The strategy, unveiled on November 19, 2020, also proposes to increase Europe’s offshore wind capacity from its current level of 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030, and to 300 GW by 2050.

The initial objective for ocean energies, and floating wind and solar, is to reach at least 1 GW of ocean energy by 2030, which, according to the European Commission, is realistic and achievable.

Ocean technologies could make a significant contribution to Europe’s energy system and industry as from 2030, in particular by supporting grid stability and playing a crucial role in decarbonising islands in the EU, the strategy states.

Currently, while a significant reduction in cost would be needed for tidal and wave energy technologies to reach their potential in the energy mix, the sector has already cut costs by 40% since 2015 – faster than anticipated.

A crucial but feasible step to reach commercial size by 2030 would be implementing the existing pipeline of 100 MW pilot-farms projects by 2025, according to the strategy.

The Commission has therefore committed to work with member states and regions to make use of available funds in a coordinated manner for ocean energy technologies (like wave  and tidal) in order to achieve a total capacity of 100 MW across the EU by 2025, and around 1 GW by 2030.

The Commission estimates that investment of nearly €800 billion will be needed between now and 2050 to meet its proposed 300 GW – 40 GW objectives. To achieve this, the Commission said it would provide a clear and supportive legal framework, help mobilise all relevant funds to support the sector’s development, and ensure a strengthened supply chain.

To promote the scale-up of offshore energy capacity, the Commission will also encourage cross-border cooperation between member states on long term planning and deployment.

This will require integrating offshore renewable energy development objectives in the National Maritime Spatial Plans which coastal states are due to submit to the Commission by March 2021. The Commission said it would also propose a framework under the revised TEN-E Regulation for long-term offshore grid planning, involving regulators and the member states in each sea basin.

Kadri Simson, EU’s Commissioner for Energy, said: “Europe is a world leader in offshore renewable energy and can become a powerhouse for its global development. We must step up our game by harnessing all the potential of offshore wind and by advancing other technologies such as wave, tidal and floating solar.

“This Strategy sets a clear direction and establishes a stable framework, which are crucial for public authorities, investors and developers in this sector. We need to boost the EU’s domestic production to achieve our climate targets, feed the growing electricity demand and support the economy in its post-Covid recovery”.

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