Offshore and other renewable energies: Council adopts conclusions

The Council today adopted conclusions on fostering European cooperation in offshore and other renewable energies. The conclusions give political direction to the Commission to ensure a swift follow-up to these conclusions and the EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy, by preparing a proposal for an ‘enabling framework’ at Union level for cross-border and other relevant national renewable energy projects, which are of paramount importance for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050.

The Council conclusions welcome the Commission’s strategy as a basis for discussions on how to increase the EU’s offshore and renewable energies capacity. According to the Council, renewable energy deployment requires the internal energy market to be further integrated, through enhanced interconnectivity among member states, infrastructure and grid development and storage solutions. This would be achieved using more cross-border projects, which require a high level of investor security.

In its conclusions the Council asks the Commission to present an ‘enabling framework’ for cross-border and other relevant national renewable energy projects. Cross-border joint and hybrid offshore projects, connecting to more than one Member State and thereby combining electricity generation, transmission and energy trade, aim to support the integration of growing volumes of renewable energy into the European electricity market.

The Council asks in particular for guidance on how to implement cross-border energy projects and conclude the related  bilateral and multilateral agreements between Member States, including analyses for a fair distribution of costs and benefits and a fair cross-border cost allocation. The Council also asks the Commission to present a proposal for an improved and more effective use of existing EU funds by key EU financing instruments and to develop guidance on how to enhance coordination and cooperation among member states on maritime spatial planning, grid planning and technical standards.

As regards the EU electricity market arrangements for hybrid offshore energy projects, the Council asks for an in-depth analysis on how the relevant provisions of EU legislation could be adapted to enable the swift realisation of such projects, while ensuring both the functioning of the internal market and appropriate conditions for electricity generation and integration.

The Council acknowledges that support for research, innovation and demonstration, as well as supply chain development are key to reduce the costs of renewable energy deployment and the related technologies. The Council asks the Commission for a proposal for an improved and more effective use of EU funds for cross-border and national renewable energy projects, especially the Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism of the European Recovery Plan.

The Council also deems it necessary to revise the State aid framework to better support the deployment of renewable energy, ensure investor certainty and research, innovation and large-scale demonstration projects of emerging and innovative technologies.

The conclusions address a wide array of technologies ranging from bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind and solar energy to tidal energy, geothermal energy and biomass. Member states agree that drawing on a pan-European supply chain these technologies can create business opportunities for European industry and contribute to integrating the internal energy market, and ultimately help the EU reach its climate and decarbonisation ambitions for 2050.