Belgium confirms joining forces with nations Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands to create the North Sea, Europe’s largest sustainable energy plant to produce energy more locally.
Considering the conflict in Ukraine and Europe’s regular dependence on Russia for fossil fuel imports, the EU has regularly called for more energy independence. The cooperative initiative in the bloc’s the North Sea is expected to assist in achieving this goal.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexender De Croo stated that “The Ukrainian crisis clearly shows that we, like European countries, must strive to produce our energy more locally. By focusing more on renewable energy, we reduce our dependence and better protect our citizens and businesses from high prices and promote a sustainable environment.”
According to a government statement, the project will consist of multiple connected offshore energy projects and hubs, offshore wind production at a massive scale, and electricity and green hydrogen interconnectors.
With his Danish, German and Dutch colleagues, De Croo signed the ambitious Esbjerg Declaration to make the North Sea Europe’s green powerhouse at the North Sea Summit. Belgium’s ambition is to quadruple its offshore wind capacity to almost 6 GW by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040.
“This is a historic day for Europe and our country. Energy is now being used as a weapon; the victims are our families and businesses, facing record high bills,” Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten said.
She stressed that this initiative should increase the country’s energy independence and reduce both people’s bills and CO2 emissions.
In the last decade, Belgium has developed the second-highest offshore capacity in the world per capita after Denmark but before the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. It is also building the first-ever hybrid energy island in the Belgian North Sea to connect its wind farms and other countries.
The announcement comes in light of a recent report which showed that human activity is increasingly causing harm to the planet. In response to the report, the UN called on governments to end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition “before we incinerate our only home.”