May 08, 2023

Roundtable discussion about ports with von der Leyen brings a smile to CEO’s face

Selfie hjememeside header

Got a question?

Karin rix hollander

Karin Rix Holländer

Executive Assistant MA

On a hectic April day in Belgium, Port Esbjerg’s CEO Dennis Jul Pedersen managed to attend a roundtable discussion with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and to meet with the other ports in the Offshore Wind Port Alliance. The two meetings made him believe that the practical challenges of the green transition can be resolved.

“I really feel very hopeful.”

This was the sentiment expressed by Dennis Jul Pedersen, CEO of Port Esbjerg, after a rather unusual day at work.

On 24 April, Jul Pedersen was a member of a select group of businesspeople participating in a meeting with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The only topic on the agenda was to discuss the practical challenges that the industry is experiencing which make it difficult to achieve the ambitious goals of the green transition.

Jul Pedersen was invited to attend the second North Sea Summit in Ostend together with other key businesspeople in the offshore wind industry as well as the heads of state and government and the energy ministers of a large number of countries.

At the first North Sea Summit held in Esbjerg about a year ago, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium signed the Esbjerg Declaration as their joint commitment to build 65 GW of offshore wind by 2030. This green alliance has now gained further support, as France, the UK, Norway, Ireland and Luxembourg have also joined.

At the summit on 24 April, the current nine countries signed a declaration setting targets to build 134 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and over 300 GW by 2050.

The focus of discussions at the meeting on 24 April was therefore to secure the supply chain in order to accelerate the pace of construction significantly.

“The need to invest in the industry was widely recognised, and we had very concrete and constructive discussions on how to support the supply chain to accelerate the pace. The ports were very central to these discussions. There were eight or nine port CEOs present which indicate that we’re regarded as central to achieving the targets,” says Jul Pedersen.

Jul Pedersen explains that Ursula von der Leyen also recognised that it would be necessary to invest in port expansions in order to speed up the pace.

“The ports need to expand and that takes investment. She’s well aware of that,” says Jul Pedersen.

Returning from Ostend with a strong mandate

In the joint declaration signed by all nine countries, the focus was very much on resolving the logistical challenges.

“We return from Ostend with a strong mandate. There’s no doubt that the ports are central to the green transition, and the political will is there to make the necessary investments. Inflation has posed major challenges, because we operate with small margins throughout the industry, but we were listened to,” explains Jul Pedersen.

He was surprised at how concrete the discussions were in terms of working out the solutions.

“Something has happened over the past year. This was the first time I’ve experienced such a level of understanding and responsiveness. It fills me with hope and brings a smile to my face,” says Jul Pedersen.

Selfie hjememeside

On 24 April, Jul Pedersen was a member of a select group of businesspeople participating in a meeting with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

A new chapter in the collaborations of competing ports

The day offered not only a meeting with Ursula von der Leyen. In fact, Jul Pedersen began his busy day meeting with the five other big wind ports in the exclusive collaboration forum, Offshore Wind Port Alliance, which was initiated by Port Esbjerg itself and set up to optimise the processes at the wind ports.

The meeting in Ostend was the first time that the ports met after they signed the European Offshore Wind Port Declaration in January and got down to work. At the Ostend meeting, the ports agreed to enter into collaborations with selected universities that would be able to help optimise efficiency across borders.

In addition to Port Esbjerg, the five ports are Port Oostende, Groningen Seaports, Niedersachsen Ports GmbH, Nantes-Saint Nazaire Port and Associated British Ports.

Later that same week, Port Esbjerg participated in Wind Europe’s annual conference, which was held in Copenhagen on this occasion and had 14,000 attendees.

Go to overview