Statement by President von der Leyen at the Leaders’ Summit on offshore wind in the North Sea

(Source: European Commission)

Thank you very much, Mette, for convening this important meeting.

Indeed, as you said at the beginning, there are two challenges that we are facing, which are defining and immediate. One is climate change and the other one is the Russian invasion in Ukraine. And indeed, Putin’s war highlights the risks we have taken to be too dependent on Russian fossil fuels. So we must – and I am deeply convinced that we can – meet these challenges by very concrete action.

And therefore, I am very happy to be here today to witness the action you are taking here, as four countries, with the memorandum you have signed, which, indeed, is a very strong political commitment from your countries to making the North Sea Europe’s green power plant. And the second strong message today was to the business community, at our panel discussion, to investors and industry, that the moment to step up investment in offshore wind is now.

Now, how do we make it a success? As policymakers, we can definitely help: by setting very clear targets, that is for predictability, for the investment; by removing bottlenecks; and by de-risking private investment. On all these points, the European Union is moving forward. This was the package REPowerEU that the Commission has presented today. Our plan is to rapidly reduce our dependency on Russian fossil fuels by really fast-forwarding the clean energy transitions.

On the targets, we raised the target for the share of renewables by 2030 from 40% to 45%. So your aim that you declared here today, to significantly increase the wind power in the North Sea by 2030, will also contribute to this objective. We are also doubling our domestic hydrogen production target. So we aim to produce, transport and import a total of 20 million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030. 10 million tons are domestic, 10 million tons will be imported. So I am very glad to see the ambitious green hydrogen capacity target of 20 gigawatts for the North Sea also set by this Summit.

Then, all of you – and mainly you, Mr Chancellor – addressed the difficulty of the permitting process. Indeed, today we have tabled a proposal for the deployment of renewables, where we are very clear in reducing the permitting process to below one year. So this will fundamentally improve the procedures. And both the binding targets and the predictable permitting procedures will create the certainty that investors need, and thus attract private investment.

I was also happy to see today at the site we visited, at Vattenfall, how much they invest in innovative technologies and research. So we propose that Member States promote the testing of these new technologies. And you have shown today the case where it is possible.

My third point is on investment. We are already channelling a lot of investment into renewable energy projects, from NextGenerationEU – EUR 30 billion so far. We are supporting innovation though the Innovation Fund. But we also need more, and we have heard it from you, in investment in the grids.

We all know that clean power generation is great, but, if you really want to us it, you need a grid. And there, we have to step up, too. So we need an additional EUR 29 billion of investment in power grids overall in the European Union. With REPowerEU, we will mobilise today up to EUR 300 billion. This will also cater, not only for the grid investments, but also for the grid investments.

So last but not least, the more interdependent we become in Europe, the more independent we become from Russia.

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