UPDATE: This press release was updated at 2:30pm after the publication of the strategy
The European Commission unveiled today its masterplan to increase offshore wind capacity as part of its clean energy transition and climate neutrality plans.
The strategy – one of the pillars of the European Green Deal – is set to gather almost €800 billion for the construction of new windfarms in EU waters. The Commission aims to achieve at least 300GW of offshore wind capacity by 2050, which represents a 25-fold increase compared to current levels.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) cautiously welcomed the plan, arguing that wind power capacity will need to be scaled up in the next 10 to 30 years to help Europe achieve climate neutrality.
However, the EEB called for the adoption of complementary measures aimed at monitoring its impact on marine habitats and prevent biodiversity loss.
The construction and operation of fixed-bottom turbines can potentially harm sea mammals, birds and fish, which may be affected by the loud noise in their search for food and throughout migratory routes.
Sergiy Moroz, senior policy officer for biodiversity at the EEB, said:
We need clean energy just as much as we need healthy seas if we want to avert the ongoing climate and environmental crises – both of which threaten our own survival .
The European Commission and national governments need to ensure adequate protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in line with the EU’s target to protect and effectively manage 30% of our seas. This target represents a significant increase from the 11% that is currently protected and therefore requires a strong commitment.
Jonathan Bonadio, policy officer for renewable energy and grids at the EEB, said:
The full decarbonisation of Europe’s energy mix doesn’t need to come at the expense of our seas.
Our recently published energy scenario confirms that offshore wind would be pivotal to make a smooth transition to a net zero Europe by 2040. However, the expansion of offshore wind capacity needs a thorough environmental and strategic impact assessment at project and planning level to minimise impacts on the marine environment.