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Offshore wind can stimulate European economy

The European Commission has recognised offshore wind energy as a key technology in Europe’s attempt to stimulate the Union’s economies in its proposed €5 billion investment in energy and internet broadband in 2009-2010.

The package includes a proposal for a Regulation to grant European Community support to strategic energy projects. A total of € 3.5 billion is proposed for investment in carbon capture and storage (financial envelope: €1,250 million), offshore wind projects (€500m), and gas and electricity interconnection projects (€1,750m).

The challenge of energy security was highlighted in the European Commission's second strategic energy review of November 2008. Its significance was underlined still further by the recent gas crisis in Europe, but in the current economic and financial climate, projects are finding it particularly difficult to access investment. The EU support could put these projects back on track.

Welcomed by industry

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) says it considers the €500 million of ‘smart investment’ in specific offshore projects earmarked by the EC, as “money well spent.”

“Committing EU funds to promote offshore wind energy represents wise long-term thinking,” says Christian Kjaer, EWEA Chief Executive. “Investing public money to help unlock the largest European indigenous energy resource during the current economic uncertainty is equally strategic.”

Kjaer says that making Europe’s interconnectors more efficient and improving the electrical grid will not just help speed the development of offshore wind power. A more efficient internal electrical market will benefit consumers through cheaper prices.

According to EWEA, the wind industry alone is expected to contribute towards delivering 12-14% of EU electrical demand within 12 years, with more than one-quarter of that coming from offshore wind. By 2030, the contribution of offshore wind alone is expected to reach close to 15% of total EU electrical production.

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