Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands have pledged to pursue a tenfold rise in the installed wind capacity in the North Sea by 2050 coupled with ambitious targets for green hydrogen production in a landmark deal that will turn the sea into the green power plant of Europe.
The four EU countries will seek to reach at least 65 GW of offshore capacity by the end of the decade and then more than double it to at least 150 GW by 2050. This would deliver more than half of the offshore capacity needed to reach EU climate neutrality.
The roll-out of offshore wind energy will be combined with the expansion of onshore and offshore production of green hydrogen with the combined capacity set to grow to about 20 GW by 2030 and further expand in the following two decades.
The agreement was signed by the energy ministers of the four countries at the North Sea Summit that took place on Wednesday in Esberg, Denmark. The summit was also attended by the President of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson and representatives of companies from the four countries.
To reach the joint goal, the countries have set separate targets. The most significant contribution will be made by Germany, which has pledged to reach 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and boost it to 70 GW by 2045. Belgium will seek to establish 5.8 GW offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040 while Denmark has committed to reaching at least 10 GW by 2030 with a view towards up to 35 GW by 2050. The Netherlands plans to establish about 21 GW offshore wind capacity around 2030.
As part of the cross-border cooperation, Denmark will establish an energy island in the North Sea with an initial capacity of 3 GW of offshore wind by 2033 and connections to its mainland and Belgium. Later, the island will be connected to Germany and the Netherlands.
Belgium, on its part, will establish an offshore energy island which will combine offshore wind generation and cross-border interconnections.
The pact also includes plans for multiple energy hubs and islands as well as support for accelerated regulatory and permitting processes.
Commenting on the agreement, Robert Habeck, Germany's Minister of Economy and Climate Action, said that the deal is an important milestone in cross-border cooperation. Together, the four countries can expand offshore wind energy in the North Sea region even faster and in a more efficient way and harness the potential for green hydrogen. Thus, the dependence on gas imports will be further reduced, Habeck noted.
The major deal between the four countries was announced on the same day when the EC introduced its REPowerEU Plan meant to help Europe end its dependence on Russian gas.