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Over the next few decades the European Commission plans to implement a proactive strategy in offshore wind, a high-growth market in which VINCI Energies is staking out a position following its acquisition of EWE Offshore in Germany.

Europe wants to move up a gear in boosting offshore wind power. With this in mind, the European Commission on 19 November 2020 presented its roadmap for increasing generation capacity from its current level of 12GW to 60GW by 2030 and 300GW by 2050. 

The average capacity of offshore wind farms has almost doubled in a decade.

Investment of around €800 billion is expected over the next 30 years to meet these targets, creating 62,000 jobs, according to the commission. “An installed capacity of 300GW of offshore wind […] would be needed in the integrated, climate-neutral energy system of 2050,” says Brussels in its policy document.

Indeed, Europe is already at the leading edge of the field. Offshore wind is highly concentrated on the continent, since it has the largest maritime area in the world. “Five countries (the UK, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and China) represent almost 95% of installed offshore wind capacity – that shows just how concentrated the sector is. But new countries like Taiwan, South Korea and the US are making inroads into the market too,” points out Sophie Meritet, lecturer at Paris-Dauphine-PSL University.

Although offshore wind only accounted for 2.3% of European power generation in 2019, the number of offshore wind farms is increasingly rapidly and their average capacity has “almost doubled in a decade,” says WindEurope. In the UK, Hornsea One, the largest offshore wind farm in operation, has an installed capacity of 1218MW. Globally, this form of power generation should grow by 16.2% per year, reaching 142GW by 2030 compared with 23.2GW in 2019, according to GlobalData.

Major projects 

“The next 5 years will see major projects getting under way in Europe,” says Michael Helbig, integration director at Omexom Deutschland. In December 2020, VINCI Energies acquired one of the flagships of the sector, German company EWE Offshore Service & Solutions GmbH. Renamed Omexom Renewable Energies Offshore GmbH, this 160-strong specialist in project development and engineering and in the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms intends to play a leading role in the battle ahead.

Major European projects currently in the pipeline include Dogger Bank. Located off the coast of England in the North Sea, this exceptional project should have a capacity in excess of 3.6GW when it comes on stream in 2023 and should power up to 6 million homes.

France, which has set itself the goal of achieving a capacity of 5.2 to 6.2GW by 2028, is planning to implement 6 projects by 2023 in Fécamp (Seine-Maritime department), Courseulles-sur-Mer (Calvados), Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique), Le Tréport (Seine-Maritime), Saint-Brieuc (Côtes-d’Armor) and Noirmoutier (Vendée). The total capacity of these new wind farms will be approximately 3.3MW.

Baltic Eagle in Germany is another example of a large-scale project under development. Located 30km from Rügen island, this new complex, with a capacity of around 500MW, will supply renewable energy to 475,000 homes.

Market opportunities

“By leveraging synergies within VINCI Energies, Omexom Renewable Energies Offshore hopes to seize opportunities in this growing market,” explains Michael Helbig, while highlighting the strengths of the new VINCI Energies entity: “We’re highly specialised in management services, particularly asset management, but also in site inspection and maintenance, and we have extensive experience in wind farm construction.”

Thanks to solid collaboration with Omexom Niederlande, Omexom Renewable Energies Offshore – the new VINCI Energies offshore centre of excellence – has already been awarded four contracts by Eneco, a Dutch energy company, covering the maintenance of its offshore wind farms over a 5-year period.

“We’re also working on the French projects, for which we’re in the process of finalising our strategy. We’re awaiting an initial invitation to tender this year,” says Helbig. He adds that preparatory work is also being undertaken by the Omexom Renewable Energies Offshore team with a view to approaching US, Polish and Taiwanese markets.

At any event, there is no shortage of opportunities in the offshore wind sector such as those offered by floating offshore wind facilities, not anchored to the seabed.