21 November 2023
North Seas Energy Ministers endorse Wind Power Package
In the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands the 10 Energy Ministers of the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC)** met in The Hague yesterday. They agreed a new NSEC Action Agenda for the build-out of offshore wind. This Agenda aims among other things to help strengthen Europe’s wind energy supply chain. In the same vein NSEC also welcomed the EU Commission’s Wind Power Package and pledged to actively engage in its implementation.
The NSEC countries want to build 76 GW offshore wind by 2030, 193 GW by 2040 and 260 GW by 2050. That will make the North Seas the power plant of Europe. But it needs close cross-border collaboration. The NSEC Action Agenda agreed yesterday sets out the necessary actions: in grid development, market design, financing, auction design, nature protection and offshore energy security.
Implementing the Wind Power Package
The meeting comes less than a month after the EU Commission presented its excellent Wind Power Package to strengthen Europe’s struggling wind energy industry. The Commission has proposed enshrining support for the Wind Power Package in a Wind Energy Charter to be signed by governments and industry by the end of the year. The NSEC governments yesterday welcomed the Package and pledged to actively engage in its implementation.
And the NSEC Action Agenda commits NSEC countries to take just the sort of actions that are envisaged in the Wind Power Package. Improving auction design. Making more use non-price criteria (NPC). Strengthening pre-qualification criteria (PQC). Good. This is crucial. Especially the PQC. Europe has to raise the bar on what sort of turbines can be built. They must comply with high environmental standards and give commitment on cyber and data security.
Next steps towards an integrated, meshed offshore grid
NSEC countries also welcomed the first Offshore Network Development Plan (ONDP) to be published in January 2024. It will serve as guidance for future network investments. They pledged to share data on future offshore and onshore grid planning as well as the locations renewable hydrogen electrolysis.
NSEC also committed to the accelerated development of key cross-border infrastructure projects. They stressed the need for the EU electricity market design to set up a regulatory framework for offshore wind hybrids. That’s offshore wind farms which are connected to more than one country and therefore serve as an interconnector.
These hybrids save space and money by pooling generation and transmission assets. And they improve energy flows between countries. But Europe only has one such hybrid offshore wind farm today. Many others are planned but need more clarity on what their revenue model will be. Parliament and Council must maintain the Transmission Access Guarantees proposed by the European Commission. They will help de-risk investments without additional costs to taxpayers.
**The North Sea Energy Cooperation (NSEC):
Within the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC), nine European member states, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the European Commission are working together on the development of offshore wind energy and the associated infrastructure in the North Seas. The NSEC aims to jointly achieve the EU climate goals and renewable energy goals. In 2023 the NSEC is chaired by the Netherlands.