The full offshore wind power potential of the North Sea is to be exploited. This was agreed by and between the Heads of Government and the Ministers of Energy from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany at the North Sea Summit in Esbjerg, Denmark, on 18 May 2022.

As the green power house of Europe, the North Sea is to consist of many joint offshore energy projects and energy islands.

The Esbjerg Declaration adds to the offshore wind capacity target
The Esbjerg Declaration sets a joint target for Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands to deliver at least 65 GW offshore wind power by 2030 and to increase capacity to at least 150 GW by 2050. The ambition is that the countries will be able to deliver half of the green offshore wind power required by the EU in 2050 in order to reach the objective of climate neutrality.

The Esbjerg Declaration was signed by the Heads of Government of the four countries in question.

At the North Sea Summit, the Ministers of Energy signed a joint declaration on the efforts required to reach the ambitious targets set out in the Esbjerg Declaration. The countries will specifically work to:

  1. increase the national expansion of offshore wind power and green hydrogen,
  2. collaborate on interconnectors to the first energy island in respect of which a bilateral agreement between Denmark and Belgium is the first agreement confirming connection of the island to several countries,
  3. maximise the capacity on the first energy island to 10 GW by 2040 at the latest,
  4. plan the establishment of another energy island in the North Sea,
  5. screen the North Sea to be able to establish future energy islands,
  6. work for faster approval processes, nationally as well as in the EU,
  7. give high priority to offshore wind power among activities at sea, and
  8. ensure more EU funds for offshore wind projects to reduce risks for investors.
windmill sea

New initiatives at EU level presented on the day of the North Sea Summit
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the EU's Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, attended the North Sea Summit on 18 May 2022.

On 18 May 2022, the European Commission presented the REPowerEU plan, which is to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas.

The REPowerEU plan includes a number of initiatives which are to accelerate green transition and contribute to taking full advantage of the offshore wind potential in Europe.

As part of the REPowerEU plan, the European Commission has, among other things, adopted a recommendation to accelerate permitting procedures for RE projects and has proposed an amendment of the RE Directive (2018/2001/EU).

In connection with its reform proposal of April 2022, Denmark can do more II, the Danish Government acknowledged that Denmark is willing to support any recommendation from the Commission as to swift case handling of RE projects.

The proposed amendment of the RE Directive includes a requirement that the Member States designate "renewables go-to areas", which are sites on land or at sea particularly suitable for the installation of renewable energy plants.

The recommended amendment of the RE Directive also includes a requirement of organising the administrative case handling of RE projects and deadlines for the overall case handling. An overall processing time of maximum one year is generally contemplated for RE projects in designated renewables go-to areas, and maximum two years for RE projects outside renewables go-to areas. The overall processing time must include relevant environmental permits and grid connection permits.

Until the EU has reached climate neutrality, it is proposed that RE projects in the permitting process must be considered of material public importance, serving public safety.

Advisory services in relation to offshore wind and offshore energy projects
With the Esbjerg Declaration and the European Commission's REPowerEU plan, the stage has been set for complex and extensive regulation.

We render advice within all areas of renewable energy and offer highly specialised assistance in connection with the completion of RE projects. Considering Bech-Bruun's involvement in 21.5+ GW offshore wind power projects, we have particular in-depth knowledge of the establishment of offshore wind projects.

Bech-Bruun often acts as advisers on projects from start to finish. We act not only as commercially minded legal advisers but also as project managers, working seamlessly together with our clients' project teams from early-stage development through to project completion.

Bech-Bruun is among the leading advisers in the area of renewable energy. Our specialists are internationally recognised for their significant industry knowledge and advise on all legal aspects of the energy area. With our long-standing experience from major utility projects, complex transactions in the solar and wind industries and extensive contracts, we have built unique market insight to the benefit of our clients' businesses. And with our position at the cutting-edge of the green transition, including multiple carbon capture projects, we provide advice to our clients on the green solutions of the future.