North Sea to Receive 100s of Billions of Dollars Investment to Reduce Carbon Emissions

By Sophia Francise

June 25, 2023
Artificial Island for Offshore Energy

Plans are underway for the North Sea to receive hundreds of billions of dollars in investment to reduce carbon emissions and Russian fossil fuel imports.

This was agreed on in April at a summit held in Ostend, where nine European governments, including Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Ireland, and Luxembourg, were in attendance.

The meeting was also attended by EU president Ursula von der Leyen and featured Britain and Norway, whose offshore areas have high wind investment potential.

They pledged to work together to triple offshore wind generation capacity in the North Sea and nearby waters by 2030 and tenfold by 2050.[1]

The aim of including all of these countries was “to give the perspective of making the North Sea the largest green energy plant in the world by combining all those coastlines,” said Alexander De Croo, the prime minister of Belgium, in an interview.

What’s Driving the Push for More Offshore Wind?

The push for offshore wind stems from climate change concerns and a desire for energy independence from Russia, a key supplier of oil and gas to Europe.

Russia attempted to use gas as a weapon against Europe in the Ukraine war, increasing energy prices and convincing Germany and other European countries to seek alternative energy sources.

Additionally, Europe’s consideration of the North Sea as an alternative energy source is due to its strong winds and shallow water making it suitable for offshore wind turbines. 

London Climate Action Week, running through July focuses on alternative energy sources. 

Europe is home to major turbine makers like Vestas Wind Systems and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, leading in offshore machines.

Increased wind power spending in Europe will boost an industry employing 300,000 people. 

Concerns arise about potential negative impacts on petroleum centers like Stavanger and Aberdeen, but some oil and gas workers are finding employment in offshore wind.

What are the Expected Challenges for this Transition?

Europe’s ambitious offshore wind generation goals face challenges due to five years or more lead times.


According to Soren Lassen, head of offshore wind research at Wood Mackenzie, steel could be in the water by 2027 or 2028 if set in 2023.

Also, although Europe is home to the largest turbine makers, they face financial challenges due to heavy investment, inflation, and other issues. 

Scaling up production rapidly as needed may be difficult for them and their suppliers.

Also, wind developers are cautious about building large structures at sea, including artificial islands, which could impact the maritime environment.

Yet, offshore wind farms are attractive to investors, producing significant amounts of electric power. 

The expansion of offshore wind is necessary to replace fossil fuels and meet the growing demand for green power, according to senior analyst Karsten Capion at Concito.

An Insight into the Energy Trading Prospects of North Sea

The North Sea could serve as a laboratory for energy trading to balance renewable energy sources like wind and solar. 

This requires efficient offloading and storage of power during excess generation and access to flows from other sources during power deficits. 

A network of high-capacity cables already crosses the bottom, allowing electric power to flow towards the market with the highest price

Interconnectors can transport power from France’s nuclear plants to Britain or Norway’s hydropower to Germany.


As renewable sources form an increasingly prominent part of the energy system, such links will become vital. “Renewable energy into the system of today and the future is going to create a need for collaboration, “ said Hilde Tonne, chief executive of Statnett, Norway’s electric grid operator. She added that the North Sea and offshore wind “is an opportunity to do whatever we need to do in our renewable energy system.”

Next year, barges and cranes are expected to work on an artificial island in the North Sea, Princess Elisabeth Island, located 30 miles off Belgium’s coast. 

The sand island is expected to cover 60 acres and cost around $2 billion.

The island, with high walls to protect it from the sea, is seen as a harbinger of the future for the European power network. 

It will serve as a gathering point for power cables from a large wind farm, linking facilities to another island off Denmark and Britain.

“Over time, you will have a full North Sea network of those kinds of hubs,” said Chris Peeters, chief executive of Elia, the Belgian grid operator building the island.

Other plans for energy islands are also underway. Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, a renewables investment firm, wants to build an island off Denmark that could include machines for making hydrogen, considered a future clean fuel, from the wind. “We believe it is much more cost-effective and also creates a lot of new value to have the infrastructure out there, “ said Thomas Dalsgaard, the executive in charge of planning the project.

According to Filip De Bodt, a fisheries campaigner at Climaxi, building sea structures to combat climate change poses environmental risks. The impact on sea life and local fisheries remains unknown.

He also worries about the consequences of giant companies moving into the marine world. “The sea is not a sea anymore; it is becoming an industrial place,” he said.


  1. Stanley Reed, ‘North Sea Sees Potential Shift from Oil and Gas to Renewable Energies’, The New York Times, 24 June 2023,[]