offshore windfarm

Baltic countries to boost offshore wind power capacity sevenfold

Eight European Union countries have agreed to increase offshore wind power generation capacity to 20 gigawatts by 2030, as the bloc seeks to decrease dependency on Russian energy.

Nations bordering the Baltic Sea agreed on Tuesday to increase offshore wind capacity sevenfold by the end of the decade.

The agreement was announced at a summit attended by European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and ministers and lawmakers from Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden, which all border the Baltic Sea.

"We share a great potential for offshore wind," Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen said at an energy summit in Copenhagen. "As long as we depend on fossil fuels, we are vulnerable."

The Baltic Sea currently has 2.8 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity installed, with almost all of it in Danish and German waters. However, the EU's Nordic countries are still highly dependent on fossil fuel for their energy consumption. 

The decision by the Baltic nations has thus been perceived as part of the EU's commitment to wean itself off Russian gas following the invasion of Ukraine, and provide a boost to renewable energy sources, which will, in turn, support the bloc's net-zero targets. 

"Putin's attempt to blackmail us with fossil fuels is failing", said von der Leyen.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the nation supplied 27 per cent of the EU’s imported oil and 40 per cent of its gas, with the bloc paying around €400bn (£340bn) a year in return. However, following the sanctions imposed by the European bloc, Russia has reduced or halted gas supplies to several countries, driving up energy costs throughout the continent. 

"We are the frontline of European energy security", Frederiksen added. "In this war, Putin is using energy as a weapon and has put Europe, as we all know, on the brink of an energy crisis with skyrocketing energy prices." 

By 2050, the Baltic Sea's wind energy capacity could be brought to 93GW, the countries said in a statement. However, producing 20GW  would be enough to supply electricity to 20 million households, "more than the current wind offshore capacity in the whole of the EU today",  according to Frederiksen. 

Earlier this week, the EU Commission revealed it is drafting an "emergency intervention" into its energy market, with the goal of regulating the cost of electricity, taking into account the lower price of renewables.  

The Commission said in March it wanted to reduce dependence on Russian gas by two-thirds this year, and completely by 2030. It also unveiled a target to increase its share of renewable energy from 40 to 45 per cent by 2030, and to become completely carbon-neutral by 2050.

As part of this commitment, Denmark has announced it would increase its wind capacity off the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm from two to three gigawatts, and link this production to Germany's electricity grid. Last May,  Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium announced a similar agreement to increase the North Sea's wind power capacity tenfold to 150GW by 2050. 

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