An EU low-carbon economy, with a fully decarbonised power sector at its core, will require very large volumes of low-carbon electricity. To date, offshore wind holds the most promise for the necessary volumes to be realised. While the North Sea offers the best prospects by far, there is significant potential in other waters, including the Baltic Sea, the southern European waters and the Black Sea. Given past and expected cost reductions, Black Sea offshore wind is a major economic opportunity for EU and non-EU countries in the region under the European Green Deal.
From an energy perspective it offers a way to substitute increasingly uneconomic coal, without increasing dependence on imported Russian gas, including for landlocked countries. Offshore wind can rejuvenate harbour areas and attract new investment in future-proof technologies more generally, thereby creating jobs, many of them well paid. Low-carbon energy will become a precondition for attracting future investment, not just for low-carbon industries.
The Next Generation EU recovery fund is an opportunity for the region to take the next step; first plans are emerging. Given its historic size, good plans and projects will be supported. Member states and their regions must quickly develop comprehensive plans.
The experience shows that offshore wind requires a dedicated governance framework. With the Central and South Eastern Europe energy connectivity initiative (CESEC), the framework exists; it can be adapted to meet the needs of offshore wind. A successful EU Black Sea strategy may radiate beyond the EU and the Energy Community. There is interest in renewable energy and offshore wind, especially in Turkey, but also in Azerbaijan, Russia, and the Caspian region.