AMBITIOUS European Union goals for offshore wind – 230-450GW by 2050 – are achievable, according to a new report, if the right investments in electricity grids are made and governments take the correct approach to maritime spatial planning.

And the study by the voice of the wind industry, WindEurope, has suggested that 85% could come from the “north seas” – the Atlantic off France, Ireland and the UK, the North Sea, Irish Sea and Baltic Sea.

The organisation compiled the report – Our energy, our future – for the energy ministers of the 10 north seas countries who co-ordinate their work on offshore wind with each other and the European Commission.

It was released yesterday at Offshore 2019 in Copenhagen, examining where 450GW of offshore wind could be deployed most cost-effectively around Europe, bearing in mind there is only 20GW today.

The report concluded that 212GW should be deployed in the North Sea, 85GW in the Atlantic, 83GW in the Baltic and 70GW in the Mediterranean and other Southern European waters. It said this reflects the relative wind resources, proximity to energy demand and the location of the supply chain.

The report also considered how much it would cost to build these large volumes of offshore wind, and showed how maritime spatial planning was key to minimising costs.

In at least 60% of the north seas, the study found it was not possible to build offshore wind farms today. Such “exclusion zones” exist either for environmental reasons or because space is set aside for fishing, shipping or military activity and mean we can only build less than a quarter of the required volumes at very low cost – below €50 (£42)/MWh. However, with a different approach to maritime spatial planning, with climate change at its heart, WindEurope said much more could be built at these prices.

It added that offshore grid investments would have to rise from less than €2 billion (£1.7bn) in 2020 to €8bn (£6.8bn) a year by 2030, with capital expenditure rising from around €6bn (£5.1bn) in 2020 to €23bn (£19.7) by 2030 and thereafter up to €45bn (£38.5bn) a year.

WindEurope CEO, Giles Dickson, said: “The report shows that it is do-able and affordable. But three things need to happen: the offshore wind supply chain keeps growing; we build the grid connections; and we get the maritime spatial planning right. The wind industry is ready to expand the supply chain provided governments give long-term visibility on volumes and likely revenues.”