Together, we can build the North Sea’s European green power plant

16. June 2022

With the Esbjerg Declaration, four of the world’s most ambitious countries on renewable energy have committed to transforming the North Sea into Europe’s green power plant. At the same time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Soenderborg has discussed the importance of energy efficiency in the green transition.

Our joint cross-border promises are highly motivating to develop the innovative solutions needed to deliver the CO2-neutral energy of the future.

To realise the green ambition and ensure a stable energy supply based on lots of energy-efficient and renewable energy, we must collaborate on a large scale across Europe.

It’s very much the “winds of change” blowing in from the North Sea right now. In the midst of a worrying climate change and a geopolitical energy crisis, four of the North Sea’s neighbours have decided to work together to solve both challenges in one bold move:

Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark have pledged to work together to make the North Sea Europe’s green power plant and to produce enough wind energy and hydrogen to supply more than half of Europe with carbon-neutral energy by 2050.

It is an ambitious project that the four countries have shook hands on. We need to expand the North Sea’s energy production to deliver as much as 65 GW of wind energy as early as 2030, and by 2050 we will increase that level to 150 GW and build new energy islands in the process!

We must cooperate

We must produce much more energy – and we must become much better at utilizing it efficiently if the green transition is to be realized. It will take huge amounts of innovation and technology development to reach the goal. Not least, it will require a lot of cooperation across sectors and borders.

Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck spoke at the announcement of the Esbjerg Declaration on ‘a basis for the first truly European power plants’:

“The projects need to be developed jointly, financed jointly and electricity distributed jointly,” he said, adding that the goal was for each country to no longer do its own thing, but for us to approach energy on the basis of cooperation.

This is a very encouraging message for our shared ambition for 2030 and 2050.

To get to where we want to be by then – that is, the 70 percent reduction target by 2030, the complete climate neutrality by 2050 – we must break barriers in a big way.

Here are three of the main ones:

  1. We must cross borders and work together at the legislative level. We cannot see one country’s energy production, energy distribution and energy consumption as a closed loop – we all share the ambition, the challenge and the opportunity, as both the declaration in Esbjerg and the conference in Soenderborg have emphasized.
  2. We must collaborate across sectors and ensure energy-efficient sector coupling. We’re going to produce a huge amount of wind energy, and direct electrification can’t absorb it all. In order to take full advantage of the massive increase in production in a green transition, we need to get more sectors connected to sustainable energy. District heating, industries (via recycling of waste heat and conversion to renewable energy), aviation, heavy road transport, shipping, agriculture and industry all have the potential to be part of the green transition.
  3. We must work together to create the necessary technology development and adaptation and scaling of new solutions. We already know that wind and solar energy are the basis and that hydrogen is the intermediate product. What comes after? Developing new, innovative technologies for storage, distribution, e-fuels and batteries to boost the green transition is a major challenge – but also a great opportunity!

At Energy Cluster Denmark, we are keen to connect international and European partners, both companies and knowledge institutions, and contribute as the neutral platform for a joint effort to repatriate innovation funds, build bridges with other European cluster organisations in exciting energy hubs and facilitate European innovation collaborations between small and medium-sized enterprises; institutions of knowledge; innovative startups and organizations in developing new technologies that enable an efficient and sustained green transition.