May 08, 2023

Commentary - May 2023

Jesper Bank feb18 6 min

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Jesper Bank

Chief Commercial Officer

Jesper Bank, CCO, Port Esbjerg

Life is never dull at Port Esbjerg, but the events of the last couple of weeks have certainly been very special indeed.

The targets of the joint wind energy efforts in the North Sea were ramped up when the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, and other heads of state or government of the North Sea-rim countries met in Ostend, Belgium on 24 April for the second North Sea Summit. The countries doubled their ambitions.

The target for the volume of offshore wind installed by 2030 was raised to 130 GW, and more countries joined the efforts. The collaboration now sets out huge ambitions for the green agenda, which implies a very significant political commitment.

It may seem like a paradox, therefore, that we have witnessed an industry in recent years with virtually no activity. Not a single investment decision regarding offshore wind has been made during the past twelve months – for the first time in twenty years, I might add.

This leaves us facing huge challenges that we will need to resolve quickly, and a complete gear change is needed if we are to significantly accelerate the current pace.

The summit at Ostend, which was attended by Port Esbjerg’s CEO, was a big step in the right direction and the main focus of the event was specifically to translate ambition into action. A very clear top priority was to eliminate practical barriers, such as the burdensome processes of getting approval for new wind farms.

The politicians were also receptive to the need for investing in ports. No ports, no offshore wind, to put it bluntly, and there were concrete talks about investing heavily to expand ports and port infrastructure.

“We returned from the summit with a strong mandate. The politicians are well aware of the key role played by the ports, and they support making changes here and now,” says Port Esbjerg CEO Dennis Jul Petersen.

On the day of the summit, we also met in Ostend with five of the other major wind ports that are members of the Offshore Wind Port Alliance. This is a collaboration initiated by Port Esbjerg and set up to optimise the processes at the wind ports. Once again, the focus was to help make us more efficient.

The positive mood at the Ostend summit continued at Wind Europe’s annual conference in Copenhagen a few days later, and I experienced an unprecedented sense of excitement and impatience by attendees to get on and get going. Everyone is ready and eagerly awaiting the monumental effect that I think is just around the corner.

Considering the important decisions made at the summit and the extensive commitments, I feel very optimistic about how the near future will unfold, both for Port Esbjerg and for the entire wind industry. I am confident that ports, vessels and service providers will have better opportunities to deliver on the green transition going forward. To be honest, it is also absolutely crucial considering the scale of the ambitions.

To sum up, that’s why the last couple of weeks have been very special at Port Esbjerg. A fivefold increase in the pace of installations requires the support of everyone involved. I firmly believe that support is available, so let’s get going.

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