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Belgium, Ireland and the UK are stepping up their cooperation to make the North Sea the largest sustainable power plant in Europe

Belgium, Ireland and the UK are stepping up their cooperation to make the North Sea the largest sustainable power plant in Europe

Energy Minister Tinne van der Straeten and her Irish and British counterparts, Eamon Ryan and Andrew Bowie, signed a Joint Statement in Bruges on Wednesday to explore the commissioning of an interconnector between the wind farms off the Irish coast and the Princess Elisabeth energy island, with the aim of creating an energy corridor between the three countries. 

This Joint Statement marks a new decisive step towards close cooperation in the field of offshore wind energy and the ambition expressed at the Ostend Summit in April 2023 to make the North Sea a major sustainable power plant. Belgium, Ireland and the UK are committed to achieving net zero emissions in their electricity sectors, enhancing the security of their electricity supply, deploying renewable electricity, and achieving competitive costs of electricity. 

The Joint Statement establishes a framework for more detailed discussions and detailed planning of the necessary infrastructure to connect the wind farms to the Princess Elisabeth Energy Island. It demonstrates the willingness of the three nations to pursue common goals for a sustainable energy transition and the use of renewable resources. Stakeholders also commit to establish a working group to report on common challenges, opportunities and solutions for the development of offshore renewable energy infrastructure. The results of the working group will be presented to interested parties, including ministers and regulators, in the first half of 2025. 

Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten :  

"Princess Elisabeth Island will unlock Belgium's second offshore wind zone. It will also serve as a landing point for future hybrid interconnectors. With this partnership, Ireland, the UK and Belgium are realising the ambitions set out at the North Sea Summit in Ostend a year ago: to make the North Sea the largest sustainable power plant in Europe. The key now is to implement the actions to follow through on those ambitions and power our green future. Thanks to this Joint Statement, we can explore a promising opportunity for interconnection between our three countries. This is a valuable addition to the interconnections Belgium is already exploring, such as with Denmark, The Netherlands, and Norway, after which we will be able to select the best options for our country."  

UK Minister for Nuclear & Renewables, Andrew Bowie :  

“The North Sea has the potential to be a renewable energy powerhouse, and we will always look to collaborate with our neighbours to explore how we can make the most of it."

“Not only do we share seas with our Belgian and Irish allies, but we share a common interest in cutting emissions and powering our homes with cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy.” 

Irish minister for the Environment, Climate and Communication, Eamon Ryan : 

 “Increased electricity interconnection will be key as we continue to grow our use of renewable energy.  One of the best attributes of renewable energy is that it is, firstly, home grown and accessible to every country. A second key attribute is that it works best if it can be shared. When we have excess off-shore wind capacity in Ireland, for example, it makes sense that we utilise and store what we need but that we can also share it with our neighbours through international co-operation and interconnection.” 

“One year after the North Sea Summit in Ostend, the new cooperation we are exploring today is another step forward in achieving the goal set by the nine participating countries who pledged to make the North Seas – including the Atlantic North Seas - the wind powerhouse for Europe. Our future energy security is renewable but above all our future energy security is shared renewable.” 

Together, the nine countries that attended the Summit and signed the Ostend Declaration last year have set offshore wind targets of about 120 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050 in the North Seas. Today, the North Sea has a combined capacity of less than 30 GW.

The signing of the Joint Statement took place on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting on offshore wind energy organised under the Belgian Presidency.

 

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