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Unlocking the Clean Energy Potential of the Northern seas

The Energy Union Package highlights the Northern seas for having a substantial potential for low carbon energy, supplied close to some of the most energy intensive regions of Europe. But how is this offshore wind potential best harnessed? This is our question to policy makers, industry, analysts and the European Commission. This was the topic of debate at a conference held in the European Parliament September 29th.

The Northern Seas can deliver a significant amount of Europe’s future energy needs. That seemed to be the common belief among the speakers during the Monday’s conference in the European Parliament.

The event was organized by Danish MEP Bendt Bendtsen from the conservatives and the Belgian MEP Kathleen van Brempt from the Social democrats. The speakers included, beside representatives from the European Parliament and the Commission, DONG Energy, E.ON and Vattenfall, which combined are responsible of the construction of 38 percent of EU’s current offshore wind capacity.

-The development of offshore wind is high priority to the Commission, Marie Donnelly, Director of Renewables, Research and Innovation and Energy Efficiency at the European Commission’s DG Energy, said.

- It is crucial that we harmonize national regulations for project planning. The Commission wants to continue a rational dialogue with the member states, in order to lower these barriers.

Kristian Ruby, Policy Director of EWEA, supported the call for more harmonization of regulations. He estimates that up to 10 percent of the costs can be cut by harmonizing regulations.

The North Sea region has much to gain from harmonizing the regulatory framework of constructing offshore wind, Anders Stouge the Deputy Director of the Danish Energy Association concluded in his final remarks.

Further, Anders Stouge emphasized the demand for interconnectors between member states, in order to secure the flow of sustainable electricity to the areas where it is most needed.

It is estimated that towards 2020 the construction of offshore wind farms in the Northern and Baltic Seas will create 7000 new jobs in Denmark.  

The briefing was organized by MEPs Kathleen van Brempt (S&D) and Bendt Bendtsen (EPP) and took place in the European Parliament on September 29th.