Wind farm construction in the North Sea. Photo: © ShDrohnenFly/

New parliamentary vote to ramp up offshore wind production in EU

More offshore renewable energy is needed to meet Europe’s climate goals, but permits for new sites need to be approved quicker, according to the European Parliament.

On 16 February the European Parliament voted on an own-initiative report on the European Commission’s offshore energy strategy (published in November 2020). The report was adopted with 518 votes in favour, 88 against, and 85 abstentions. The report proposed a massive expansion in offshore wind capacity to reach 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050. For wave and tidal, the goals are 1 GW by 2030, rising to 40 GW by 2050.

The vote shows that the Parliament welcomes the Commission’s strategy, while proposing additional focus areas. The main bottleneck to be addressed is the permitting process, which needs to be simplified. MEPs called on the Commission to make offshore wind a core component of the EU’s energy system by 2050 as well as considering the impact of increasing the 2050 target from 300 GW to 450 GW. The need to boost investment in “circular and nature-inclusive” projects was also stated. MEPs highlighted that offshore wind farms can benefit marine biodiversity if they are designed and built sustainably. The circular focus can contribute further to a sustainable future for the clean energy sector and this will both increase the efficiency of the decarbonisation and reduce the reliance on material imports .

The latest report from WindEurope, published on 24 February, shows that in 2021 the EU installed 11 GW of wind power and is estimated to install an average of 17.6 GW between now and 2026. The sector needs 32 GW to reach the EU’s target of 40% of renewables in its energy mix by 2030. Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope commented: “Land is not the issue. Finance is not the issue. Technology is not the issue. Public opinion is not the issue. It’s the sheer complexity of the permitting procedures.”

Energy commissioner Kadri Simson said: “On permitting, we know that we face one of the key challenges for project development in the EU. So we are doing everything we can to make sure that member states coordinate, streamline and facilitate the process.” Furthermore, the EU executive plans to provide guidance on good practices this summer to address what she called “overly complex and excessively long administrative procedures”.

The permitting process can be simplified by, for example, setting up single points of contact for developers and introducing time limits for issuing permits and authorisations.
However, the permit process should include local communities and should not come at the expense of protected areas. The report seeks to increase public support through “transparent and meaningful involvement of coastal communities” as well as “one-stop shops” to provide information on how to fund “breakthrough” demonstration projects.
In a statement published after the vote, rapporteur Morten Petersen (Danish Renew Europe lawmaker), said it was clear that MEPs “all understand the urgency of the matter and that we are putting offshore renewable energy front and centre in the fight against climate change”.

Emilia Samuelsson

 1Read more in Acid News No.3 2021 “Material recovery opportunities from the clean energy sector”.
 2 European Parliament demands quicker deployment of offshore renewable energy, Euractive, 18 February,

Take part in the EU’s public consultation to speed up the renewable energy permitting processes

When it comes to the bottleneck in speeding up the permitting process for renewable installations the EU Commission has promised to publish guidance to member states. While the 2018 Renewable Energy Directive introduced rules on the organisation (single contact points) and maximum duration of the permit-granting process, stakeholders have emphasised how additional guidance, such as the sharing of good practice, would help provide further improvement on the ground.
The European Commission therefore opened two public consultations on 18 January 2022 as part of plans for a dramatic increase in solar and wind power capacity. The first consultation is on guidance for improving permitting and power purchase agreements , and the second focuses on solar energy . Both consultations will run until 12 April.



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