Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) - is a major source of green energy that may be generated from offshore wind farms and other ocean energy technologies. It significantly contributes to the EU’s 2050 Energy Strategy.
By 2030, the EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy aims to have at least 60 GW of offshore wind and 1 GW of ocean energy built. In addition, as part of the European Green Deal, plans are underway to deploy 300 GW of offshore wind energy by 2050, accounting for around 30% of future EU electricity, with an intermediate objective of reaching 60 GW by 2030. The aim is to ensure that offshore wind energy plays a crucial role in achieving Europe's carbon-neutral goals.
So, there is great potential for the Marine Renewable Energy sector to sustainably generate economic growth and jobs, enhance energy security and boost industry competitiveness through technological innovation.
Starting as a first mover in the offshore sector, with the first offshore wind farm installed in Denmark in 1991, the EU is a global leader in offshore wind manufacturing. As a result, the EU offshore wind energy sector has grown to a cumulative installed capacity of 17.5 GW by the end of 2022, with an increase of 1.2 GW in the last year. The main EU producers of offshore wind energy are Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark.
Many innovative ocean energy technologies are currently being developed and tested to exploit the vast source of clean, renewable energy that the seas and oceans offer. Although still in the research and development stage and not yet widely commercially available, promising ocean technologies includes: wave energy, tidal energy, salinity gradient energy and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). Wave and tidal energy are currently the more mature of these innovative technologies.
The wind energy sector has seen a significant increase in offshore wind technologies over the past decade, owing to higher capacity factors, much larger site availability, and cost reductions, all of which have benefited from significant technological advancements, such as wind turbine reliability.
Within the EU, the largest additions for 2022 were in France (0.5GW), the Netherlands (0.4GW) and Germany (0.3 GW). Globally, China is leading the sector in terms of deployments and has expanded its position as the world’s largest offshore wind market with 27 GW of cumulative installed capacity, more than the UK (14GW), Germany (8 GW) and the Netherlands (4 GW) combined. The European manufacturing supply chain is built mainly on companies from EU Member States. The EU's current manufacturing capabilities cover the demand for major wind energy components.
Several European developers are developing floating offshore wind turbines, with the first pilot projects on the way and deployment likely to pick up by the end of the decade. The strategy tackles both the definition of energy production components and broader challenges.
The initiatives in the Fit for 55 package (adopted by the European Commission in July 2021) and RePowerEU plan (announced in March 2022), as well as the Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) will also play a critical role in speeding up for the clean transition in the EU. Among the objectives of the RePowerEU plan are the growth of Europe’s on- and offshore wind capacity and the need for diversification of energy sources, while NZIA aims at strengthening Europe’s net-zero technology products manufacturing ecosystem.