Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) - the generation of energy from both offshore wind farms and other ocean energy technologies - is an important source of green energy that can significantly contribute 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.
Offshore wind energy is currently the only commercial deployment of Marine Renewable Energy with wide-scale adoption. Currently, European sea basins are leading in terms of installed offshore wind energy, with over 65% of the world’s total installed capacity. Starting with only a small number of demonstration plants in the early 2000s, the EU now has a total installed offshore wind capacity of 16.3 GW across 10 countries. In late 2021, 1.8 GW of new capacity was added to the grid. The main EU producers of offshore wind energy are Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.
A number of innovative ocean energy technologies are currently being developed and tested to exploit the vast source of clean, renewable energy that seas and oceans offer. Although still at 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 been aided by significant technological advancements, such as wind turbine reliability.
Most of the EU's installed capacity is located in the North (84%) and Baltic Seas (15%). Germany is the Member State with the largest installed capacity of offshore wind energy (47%) followed by the Netherlands (23%), Denmark (14%) and Belgium (14%). There is an emerging industry in Finland, Sweden, France, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. The EU's offshore wind industry continues to lead the sector, thanks to a solid domestic market that accounts for around half of all installed capacity worldwide.
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) 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.