The war in Ukraine reached one year after Russian tanks and missiles invaded Ukraine. It impacted Europe’s economy. It has hampered the mobility of goods and people across the EU and caused fuel prices to skyrocket.
Amid the economic uncertainty caused by the war, optimism is taking place around the North Sea.
The Economist reports that Esbjerg is Europe’s offshore wind turbine industry hub. Two-thirds of the turbines spinning off Europe’s coast, enough to power 40m homes, were put together in the Danish port town of 72,000 people (Why the gusty, 2023).
Why the gusty (2023) says, this will expand as the city plans to triple its wind generation capacity by 2026, helping the continent’s ambition to scale up offshore wind energy production. The Danish city is a model of a well-planned energy production centre.
DW’s article, “Energy transition, the Danish way”, mentions that oil and gas construction platforms dominated the North Sea for decades but are now being replaced by wind energy. One in nine jobs in Esbjerg, or around 5,000 jobs, is related to wind power production.
Not only is the city constructing and installing more offshore wind turbines to increase renewable energy generation and capacity, but it is also becoming a centre for manufacturing and supplying wind turbine spare parts and equipment for other offshore wind parts like gearboxes, generators, hubs, each parts weighing several tons, the article notes.
Esbjerg’s mayor, Jesper Frost Rasmussen, says the municipality has extended the harbour by 500,000 square meters to accommodate more wind turbines. He adds that environmental groups were also involved in the planning and that there was no disagreement.
Esbjerg’s ambitions do not stop at just expanding its renewable energy production and becoming a manufacturing hub for wind turbines. Still, the port is also envisioned as a site for green hydrogen production.
Ristau (2022) notes that parts of the wind power that arrives in Esbjerg via submarine cables will be used for hydrogen electrolysis. For example, a Swiss developer, H2Energy, plans to build a 1-gigawatt electrolyser outside the port by 2024. Another Danish company CIP intends to build another 1 GW plant nearby, and the hydrogen produced will be used to “synthesise 600,000 tonnes of “green” fertiliser per year.”
Why the gusty (2023) states that other European countries surrounding the North Sea are doing something similar. Below are more excerpts from the article.
- Germany also plans to produce hydrogen by transforming easier-to-transport ammonia into hydrogen to fuel its industrial parks. Steelmaking industries could move to the area to use hydrogen instead of coal and gas in their manufacturing process.
- According to the article, for the green economy to take off, European countries need to work together by cutting red tape to make it easier to build more wind farms; countries bordering the North Sea need to ensure that seabed cables and pipes do not become overcrowded. The infrastructure is well looked after, and governments have a role in ensuring the smooth transition from traditional industries to clean energy.
- Soaring gas and oil prices have led nine European countries surrounding the North Sea to forge a plan to install 260 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2050 – enough to power nearly 200 million households in the European Union. The North Sea’s strong winds and shallow depth hold great potential to achieve all these targets.
When done right, the North Sea Economy could become a model for other parts of the continent and even the world in successfully shifting from dirty to renewable energy (Why the gusty, 2023).
The success of wind energy will also alleviate Europe’s dependence on Russia’s energy, balance its energy mix, and achieve its climate change action plans.
Why the gusty North Sea could give Europe an industrial edge. (2023, January 5). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/leaders/2023/01/05/why-the-gusty-north-sea-could-give-europe-an-industrial-edge
Ristau, O. (2022, July 24). Energy transition, the Danish way. DW. Retrieved from https://www.dw.com/en/danish-port-city-to-play-key-role-in-europes-wind-energy-plans/a-62464055