15 partners from 8 countries work together in the FLORES project to foster the Pact for Skills in the Offshore Renewable Energies. In this series of interviews, we'll introduce you to the excellent team that works on the FLORES project. Today is the turn of the Europan Marine Board!
- Name of your organization: WindEurope
- Name of interviewees: Nina Mavrogeorgou, Mariana Batista and Ivan Pineda
What does your organization do, in which areas do you normally work?
WindEurope is the voice of the wind industry, actively promoting wind energy across Europe.
We have over 500 members from across the whole value chain of wind energy; wind turbine manufacturers; component suppliers; power utilities and wind farm developers; financial institutions; research institutes and the national wind energy associations. WindEurope is based in Brussels, Belgium.
What is the role of your organization in the FLORES project?
WindEurope is leading the development of two things:
- Firstly, awareness raising materials for offshore jobs that includes a series of videos/interviews of people working in the sector and a cards game explaining some of the most interesting offshore job profiles.
- Secondly, WindEurope is preparing a set of educational material for secondary school teachers that includes six lessons on offshore renewable energies accompanied by guidebooks for teachers.
Why being part of FLORES is valuable to your organization?
FLORES work and objectives are important in order to promote and raise awareness about offshore careers in the wind sector that WindEurope represents.
Today the European wind industry employs 300,000 people in Europe (direct and indirect jobs). Given that the European Union and its Member States stick to their ambitions for the expansion of onshore and offshore wind in Europe this number is set to increase to over 500,000 by 2030.
223,000 of these jobs will be linked to offshore wind development. Today offshore wind only employs 68,000 people. This means that the offshore wind industry in Europe needs to train and recruit thousands of people in the next 7-8 years.
Why do you think offshore renewable energies are important across Europe?
Offshore wind is key to the EU’s Green Deal ambition of climate neutrality by 2050. Today wind energy (onshore and offshore combined) already provides 16% of all electricity consumed in Europe. The European Commission’s energy scenarios want this to increase to 50% by 2050.
Wind energy will then be the number one source of electricity in Europe. In terms of installed capacity the EU wants to grow its offshore wind farms from 16 GW today to 300 GW by 2050 – an almost 20 fold increase.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and other international conflicts were a painful reminder of how dependent the EU currently is on fossil fuel imports and how reduced supply of these fuels can create economic turmoil and spur inflation. Offshore wind is a reliable, competitive and homegrown source of electricity. It reduces the EU’s reliance on imported fossil fuels and increases its strategic energy security. In its energy policy reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the REPowerEU package, the European Union has doubled down on wind energy to deliver affordable prices and energy security.
What are the main challenges we face to harness the power of our oceans?
Offshore wind is a proven technology. Currently the EU has installed 16 GW of offshore wind capacity in its waters. They already generate 3% of all electricity consumed in Europe.
Despite the difficult economic environment offshore wind is a competitive and highly scalable technology. The high-capacity factors of offshore wind make it highly reliable and an ideal element in an energy mix of increasingly variable renewable generation assets.
One main issue for the expansion of offshore wind is the slow expansion of electricity grids. Electricity from offshore wind farms needs to be transmitted to land and then distributed to the centres of demand. This requires investments in transmission grids offshore as well as onshore transmission and distribution grids. But the EU is not investing enough in the expansion and optimisation of its grid infrastructure. It needs to at least double its annual investments in grids.
Other key issue are sea space constraints. Although it might not seem to be case at first sight: there is actually a lot going on offshore. Nature protected areas, commercial shipping, fishing zones, military training and flying zones, tourism and recreational shipping, fossil fuel exploration…this can lead to conflicts over the use of sea space.
What can we do among the different stakeholders to address those challenges?
The European wind industry has entered a productive dialogue with environmental NGOs and transmission system operators as part of the OcEAN Coalition to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind energy and grid infrastructure while ensuring alignment with nature protection and healthy marine ecosystems.
The OcEAN Coalition provides an open forum for discussion, where existing information and experiences are collected and assessed.
It makes sure the needs for further research are identified. Ultimately it aims to preserve and restore our European seas. We are also working closely with fishermen and fishing communities to find common solutions and explore ways to enable certain forms of fishing and aquacultures can take place within wind farms.
How would you convince young people to go for a career or studies in the ORE sector, what’s in it for them?
They will work in a highly dynamic and rapidly growing industry with ideal career opportunities. Offshore wind energy offers a range of different job profiles, appealing to different skill sets and academic backgrounds.
Maybe even more importantly it offers jobs with purpose – working in offshore wind means making a real contribution to the energy transition away from fossil fuels and helping to protect the climate and restore the earths biodiversity.