This photo shows parts of wind turbines in a port in Ostend, Belgium.
Philippe Clément / Arterra | Universal picture group | Getty Images
According to a new report from the industry association WindEurope, European ports will need new infrastructure and significant investment over the next few years to cope with the growth of the region’s offshore wind sector.
In its report published on Thursday, the Brussels-based organization said that Europe’s ports would have to invest 6.5 billion euros (around 7.9 billion US dollars) by 2030 to “support the expansion of offshore wind power”.
In a statement accompanying the release of the report, WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson described ports as “essential for offshore wind”.
“They are an integral part of the supply and logistics chain required for the installation, assembly, operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms,” he added. “We cannot expand offshore without expanding and modernizing Europe’s port infrastructure.”
As countries try to cut emissions and move away from fossil fuels, offshore wind will play a key role. The EU executive, the European Commission, previously announced that offshore wind capacity should reach at least 60 gigawatts by 2030 and 300 GW by the middle of the century.
The UK, which left the EU at the end of January 2020, aims to achieve 40 GW offshore wind capacity by 2030. According to the WindEurope report, “Government pledges across Europe are 111 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.”
In addition to this capacity expansion, the size of the turbines will also grow. For example, GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade X turbine will have a peak height of 260 meters (853 feet), 107 meter long rotor blades and a 220 meter long rotor. Elsewhere, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy is working on the SG 14-222 DD, which will have 108 meters of blades and a rotor diameter of 222 meters.
WindEurope’s report looked at this new reality and its potential impact on ports and infrastructure. “To accommodate larger turbines and a larger market, modernized or completely new facilities are required,” it said.
“They need to operate and maintain a larger fleet (including training facilities), upcoming decommissioning projects, and house new production centers for both fixed and floating offshore wind turbines,” she added.
In addition, ports “need to expand their land, strengthen quays, develop their deep-sea ports and carry out other construction work”.
WindEurope asked the European Commission to work out a “clear strategy for port development”. In addition, the Commission must “recognize the high social value of investments in ports”.
The importance of the ports was made clear this week through a series of announcements. On Thursday, the Norwegian energy company Equinor announced that it had acquired a location in the Polish port of Łeba.
The company – better known for its oil and gas production – said the site will be used as an “operations and maintenance base …” for offshore wind developments in the Polish Baltic Sea.
A few days earlier, the port operator Forth Ports had announced plans for a “renewable energy hub” in the Scottish Port of Leith. The proposed hub, which would be supported by private investments of £ 40 million ($ 56.76 million), is expected to cover 175 acres if built.
According to those in charge of the project, it would “provide a riverside marine berth that can accommodate the largest offshore wind turbine vessels in the world”.
In a statement, Charles Hammond, CEO of Forth Ports, listed a number of factors that he believed made the project attractive.
He said, “Leith’s proximity to the North Sea, where many more offshore wind developments will take place, and the natural deep waters of the Firth of Forth make this an ideal location to support not only developments already planned, but the pipeline of projects who will surely follow. “