Four thousand Eiffel Towers

Ethical Markets Resource Efficiency, Greentech

Offshore wind is one of the most talked-about forms of renewable energy. No doubt when the European Commission will publish its Energy Roadmap 2050 in December, it will be crucial in reaching the EU’s renewable energy and climate targets. Yet in practice not too many offshore wind parks have been built as yet. At the end of 2010, barely 3,000 MW of offshore wind capacity had been installed in Europe, mostly in the UK and Denmark, according to figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

Countries like Spain (number two in onshore wind power), Portugal, France, Greece and Italy have not built a single offshore wind turbine yet. Germany (number one in onshore wind) has built just 92 MW. This picture, however, is set to change drastically. Many European countries have highly ambitious expansion plans in offshore wind. Germany wants to scale up its capacity to 8,000 MW, France to 4,000 MW, the UK to 13,000 or maybe even 20,000 or 25,000 MW. Countries like Denmark, Ireland, Sweden and Belgium also have ambitious plans.

In all, according to EWEA, by 2020 some 40,000 MW of offshore wind power capacity will have been built in Europe. That’s the equivalent in capacity of some 40 coal-fired power stations. Or, to put it another way: the combined height of these wind turbines will be equivalent to roughly 4,000 Eiffel Towers.

That is, of course, if all plans go through, which is still an “if”. The first country to have scrapped its offshore wind power plans is, a bit ironically, Holland, the country of windmills. The reason: the high costs. So far the Dutch are the exception, but in the UK too a political discussion has started. The UK government has now set up a panel that will investigate how the costs of offshore wind farms can be brought down.

One of the participants in the panel is Danish energy company Dong. With good reason: if there is one company that knows most about the real costs – and real potential – of offshore wind it is Dong. Dong was the first company in the world to build an offshore wind park and is now the world leader. In the past year it has managed to draw in institutional investors that have agreed to invest hundreds of millions of euros in its parks.

So how does Dong think the costs of offshore wind can be reduced? EER’s editor Karel Beckman talked about this with Dong CEO Anders Eldrup, appropriately enough during the Copenhagen Green Week recently held in the Danish capital. Eldrup explained Dong’s unique approach to offshore wind, which is all about controlling the supply chain. ‘We don’t work project by project’, says Eldrup, ‘but are building up a portfolio of orders that will allow our suppliers to produce on an industrialized basis, as in a car factory.’ To read the interview with Eldrup, please click here.

5-6 December 2011 | Maastricht, The Netherlands

Making Europe More Energy Efficient

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21-23 November 2011 | Groningen, The Netherlands

Energy Delta Convention

High-level energy platform with a unique interdisciplinary platform for senior business, science and government experts. This year the program of the convention consists of three seperate conferences on Gas Quality and Energy Transition, Smart Energy Grids and the Hansa Energy Corridor.

Coming up on European Energy Review


  • The Levant Basin: a new oil and gas province in Europe – in a very sensitive spot
  • Europe’s Green Energy Chaos: a critique of European energy policy
  • New report: how to build a European-wide CO2 pipeline network
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