The North Sea is one of the most favourable areas in the world for the large-scale development of offshore wind. All year round, excellent wind conditions in the North Sea put Europe at the forefront of harnessing the vast energy production potential of the wind. The European Wind Energy Association predicts that a capacity of as much as 150 GW will come from offshore wind installations by 2030.
The shift to renewable energy in the UK, comes after the UK`s oil and gas production has shrunk by more than half since it peaked in 1999. Production from the UK’s continental shelf has fallen at an annual rate of around 6.2% over the past 23 years.
The UK has about a third of the potential offshore wind farm sites in Europe (more than any other nation) off Scotland and in the North Sea. Drawing on offshore energy expertise and government mandates to increase the amount of power derived from clean energy, the countries around the North Sea, led by the UK, plan to develop 35.5 GW of offshore wind projects by 2020 compared with 2.9 GW today. The total cost of the increase will be EUR 127 billion, and the facilities will provide 3.2% of the European Union’s electricity demand.
Germany, which began phasing out its nuclear power plants following the 2010 disaster in Japan, wants to increase its offshore wind production to 10,000 megawatts, with turbines contributing as much as 5.7% of gross energy production. France is aiming to go from no offshore wind production to 6,000 megawatts in eight years. Denmark has installed wind power capacity of 3,955 MW, which meets about a fifth of the nation's total electricity needs, the highest proportion in the world. Almost 35% of Danish energy needs will come from renewable energy sources and nearly 50% of our electricity consumption will come from wind power by 2020.
In total, at least EUR 114 billion, and up to EUR 152 billion, of investment is required in the next eight years to build as much as 35,500 megawatts of offshore wind in the North Sea.