EU strategy on offshore renewable energy
Offshore renewable energy consists of many different sources that are abundant, natural and clean, like wind, wave and tidal. These avoid some of the challenges that onshore renewables face – hills, buildings, roads or other human activities which make it difficult to connect to the grid – even if they face additional challenges, such as competition to sea space access. The energy of the oceans can be harnessed by modern technologies without emitting any greenhouse gases, making offshore renewable energy a potential cornerstone of the clean energy transition in the EU.
The EU is striving to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. Offshore renewables is therefore of key importance in this regard, as emphasised in the European Green Deal.
In the recovery period of COVID-19, it is important to front load investment in offshore renewable energy where possible, as this is likely to boost enduring jobs and economic activity – thereby contributing to the green recovery and long-term sustainable, inclusive growth.
A comprehensive approach
Offshore renewable energy covers several energy sources and various technologies. These come with their own set of challenges and opportunities for European energy systems, sea-users, industrial actors and civil society.
Within the sector, a huge boost in investments is needed and the continued development of European energy infrastructure, regulatory frameworks, market design, and research and innovation are necessary to foster and improve offshore renewable energy.
To maximise its impact, the strategy will go beyond a narrow definition of the factors of energy production and address broader issues such as access to sea-space, industrial and employment dimensions, regional and international cooperation, and the technological transfer of research projects from the laboratory into practice. While reinforcing the role of offshore energy in the energy mix, sustainability and, more specifically, the protection of the environment and biodiversity will be key concerns for all dimensions concerned.
Process towards a new strategy
To ensure that offshore renewable energy can help reach the EU's ambitious energy and climate targets, the Commission will put forward a dedicated strategy by the end of 2020 that will assess its potential contribution and propose ways forward to support the long-term sustainable development of this sector.
In preparation of the strategy, the Commission will welcome contributions from stakeholders and citizens
- to the roadmap launched on 16 July and open until 13 August 2020
- to the public consultation that is open until 24 September 2020
- and through position paper analysis, targeted meetings, interviews and live events, such as webinars.
On 9 July 2020, the Commission organised a stakeholder webinar to exchange views on key issues and ways forward to support the step-up and long-term sustainable development of this sector.