Energy policy spokespersons: North Sea wind energy potential to be strengthened in future

The Danish sector of the North Sea should house many more wind farms in the future, according to energy policy spokespersons from the Liberal Party, the Social Democrats and the Socialist People’s Party (SPP). In this article, the three recently appointed energy policy spokespersons talk about their ambitions for generating and exporting green energy. The aims of some of the parties will likely raise a few eyebrows.

Wind energy is Denmark’s strongest card when it comes to generating and exporting green energy. To capitalise on this asset, the wind energy potential of the North Sea must be harnessed even better going forward. 

Anne Paulin (Social Democrats), Signe Munk (SPP) and Thomas Danielsen (Liberals), all recently appointed as their party’s spokesperson on energy policy, fully agree on that ambition. The Liberals even propose building twelve or fifteen offshore wind farms instead of just three as otherwise prescribed by the energy agreement of 2018.

The energy spokespersons also agree that the port of Esbjerg plays a key role when it comes to realising the future offshore wind adventure in the North Sea and in Europe. What are their ambitions on behalf of Denmark in respect of generating and exporting green energy in the future?

Do you have a special priority when it comes to today’s energy agenda, and what will be your key issues?

Anne Paulin (Social Democrats): Denmark should be a green frontrunner, and our solutions and products must make a difference globally. The port of Esbjerg is a good example of how green energy is not only a means of helping save the climate, it also helps to create thousands of new jobs. I strongly support the government’s ideas of creating an artificial wind farm island in the North Sea and finding ways to exploit the huge potential.

Signe Munk (SPP): In the energy field, we will work to expand sustainable energy through wind turbines, solar panels and both solar and geothermal heating combined with efficient use of gasified biomass. We must get our renewable energy sources to work together and develop ways of storing sustainable energy. We must also find more ways to use green energy, such as for transport and heating.

Thomas Danielsen (Liberals): Denmark must lead the green transition without jeopardising our country’s economic growth and jobs. We must show the way for the rest of the World by successfully implementing the green transition without reducing our wealth. To achieve that we have to be bold enough to allocate the necessary funds and devise long-term plans that will provide the business community with the confidence it needs to support it and make comprehensive and necessary reforms. That is why my number one key issue is to ensure that business is not held hostage but is used as an active member of our team.

Anne Paulin, spokesperson on energy for the Social Democratic Party.

The North Sea is often called Europe’s power station in reference to the immense green energy resources it contains, including offshore wind (in addition to its stores of fossil fuels, natural gas and oil). How do you see the potential of the North Sea, and what will it take to unlock it?

Anne Paulin (Social Democrats): The Social Democrats emphasised even before this year’s general election that Denmark must truly commit to making the North Sea the centre of excellence for offshore wind in cooperation with the other North Sea rim countries. Both in the Danish parliament and in various collaborations with Nordic and EU partners, the Social Democrats are working to strengthen and exploit the North Sea’s huge potential for an offshore wind adventure. 

Signe Munk (SPP): There is no question about the huge potential of continuing to install offshore wind turbines in the North Sea, not only to provide green power to Denmark but also to contribute to the green transition of the power supply of the rest of Europe. That means there are important and specific perspectives in the political understanding we have established with the government about building an offshore wind island, building more wind farms than previously planned and for Denmark along with the North Sea rim countries to prepare a joint strategy to substantially expand and exploit the potential of offshore wind.

Thomas Danielsen (Liberals): The Liberal Party sees a huge potential for developing the North Sea into a world-leading hub for offshore wind and in which new wind farms can eventually be built without subsidies. In popular terms, our scenario is for the North Sea to be for wind what Silicon Valley is for tech. The first step in this process was the energy agreement of 2018 when we commissioned an offshore wind research project intended to contribute to defining the optimum market framework, so the offshore wind potential can be commercialised as soon as possible. Note in this connection the large growth potential relating to the new investments in the Tyra field, which will be the site of the world’s greenest extraction of oil.

Signe Munk, spokesperson on energy for the Socialist People’s Party.

What role will ports like Esbjerg play in this context?

Anne Paulin (Social Democrats): The port of Esbjerg is northern Europe’s largest port for shipping wind power components, so it will play a key role in the green transition for all of Europe. I work very closely with Anders Kronborg, a colleague from Esbjerg, on our party’s energy policies. He has invited me to visit the port of Esbjerg, and I hope to do so very soon so I can witness the green development first hand.

Signe Munk (SPP): The ports will come to play an ever greater role, because with more offshore wind farms in operation, there will be a growing need for servicing wind turbines and for handling and shipping turbines. This is a position of strength for Port Esbjerg due to the extensive expertise available at the port within this area.

Thomas Danielsen (Liberals): The port of Esbjerg is already strongly positioned in terms of shipping turbines and components.

How do you see the potential for Danish exports and Danish jobs?

Anne Paulin (Social Democrats): Unless we step up a gear, we run the risk of missing the chance to create thousands of new jobs. In other words, the government’s ambition of raising the target for cutting CO2 emissions is not only for the benefit of the climate and the environment, it is also rooted in a goal of creating a new industry adventure for Denmark.

Thomas Danielsen (Liberals): Denmark already has a green leadership position – we are a wind nation and our research is making huge advances – which we must capitalise on by showing the rest of the world the way to go green. On the other hand, we must also reach out to our neighbouring countries and ask for their collaboration, because climate change is a cross-border issue, and our solutions must be as well. That said, the green transition should hold a prominent place in Denmark’s overall export strategy.

Signe Munk (SPP): I believe that the Danish wind industry will continue to create new jobs. Clearly, competition is a factor and it will continue to grow as more and more countries install offshore wind farms. We must capitalise on the fact that our companies have so many years’ experience. The expertise present at Esbjerg is a case in point: about 80 per cent of the offshore wind capacity installed in Europe today were shipped from Esbjerg.

Thomas Danielsen, spokesperson on energy for the Liberal Party of Denmark

How do we retain Denmark’s – and Port Esbjerg’s – global leadership position in terms of offshore wind and green energy?

Anne Paulin (Social Democrats): We must make sure that we realise the ambition set by our government and strive to develop broad and sustainable solutions that will find general political support in the Danish parliament, so the business community has a known and stable framework to work with.

Thomas Danielsen (Liberals): The energy agreement was our mutual commitment to building three offshore wind farms. We launched a comprehensive project to screen Danish waters for potential locations of future offshore wind farms. The research showed that Denmark has the potential for twelve to fifteen offshore wind farms, most of them in the North Sea. The Liberal Party strongly supports exploiting this potential by making even more calls for tenders for offshore wind farms. If we can exploit the potential fully, we can produce much more power than we need in Denmark, and that would give us even more of a key position in the international transition to green energy. And we must not forget to allocate funds for green research.

Signe Munk (SPP): We must have high ambitions for the green transition while continuing to expand sustainable energy in Denmark. The framework will be a binding climate act that will commit Denmark to work for a 70 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030. We must develop answers to some of the challenges we face today in storing and integrating various kinds of sustainable energy, and we must invest to expand our green energy sector.

How big a role do you believe offshore wind could realistically come to play in the energy mix of the future?

Anne Paulin (Social Democrats): This is a golden goose for Denmark, and it has every chance of becoming a success. Our next step will be to try to break the code not only for installing offshore wind, but also to store power and convert it into electrofuels, which we know will be in strong demand in the not too distant future near future.  

Thomas Danielsen (Liberals): Wind power already accounts for more than 40 per cent of Denmark’s power consumption. That percentage will grow in the years ahead, especially if, as we expect, more unsubsidised wind farms are built.

Signe Munk (SPP): I can’t give you any figures for that, but as prices of offshore wind fall and given the potential for building farms in the North Sea, offshore wind will most certainly play a huge role in the energy mix.

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