The Esbjerg Declaration – The North Sea as a Green Power Plant for Europe

Written on the 24th May, 2022

On 18 May 2022, the President of the European Commission and the Prime Ministers of Denmark, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands signed the  “Esbjerg Declaration –  the North Sea as a Green Power Plant for Europe.”  The Declaration is short – only a page –  but commits the signatories to new targets for offshore wind generation and green hydrogen production.  The aim is to more than double the total capacity of offshore wind to at least 150 GW by 2050, delivering more than half of the capacity needed to reach EU climate neutrality according to the European Commission.  The offshore wind production should also contribute to the large-scale onshore and offshore production of green hydrogen.  The  combined targets are about 20 GW production capacity  by 2030  with  further increased production by 2050.

The Declaration stresses the need to replace Russian oil and gas imports and mentions the recent European Commission RE Power  EU Communication and the latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report which indicate an even more urgent need to move away from fossil fuels.   The signatories want to extend the Declaration to “possibly” other North Sea partners.  This  includes the members of the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC.)  other countries include France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden.  The united Kingdom has left the NSEC as a result of Brexit.

The German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Robert Habeck, emphasised the importance of the Summit for climate neutrality but also emphasised that work needed to be done on the EU Regulatory Framework.  He said:

“This is an important day for further reducing our dependence on gas imports and achieving climate neutrality. By developing joint cooperation projects with our North Sea partners, offshore wind energy in the region can be deployed even faster and more efficiently and new potentials for green hydrogen will be tapped. For projects to be realised swiftly, we also need the right regulatory market framework, in particular at EU level.”

The Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Facilities posted the following achievements from the Esbjerg meeting:

  • The Ministers of Energy signed a declaration which, among other things, covers:
    • Cooperation on connecting and maximizing capacity on the first energy island
    • Planning the establishment of another energy island or hub in the North Sea
    • Work for faster approval processes both nationally and in the EU and ensure more EU funds for offshore wind projects to reduce risks for investors
  • Denmark and Belgium signed an agreement on sale of Danish renewable energy-shares to Belgium. The agreement confirms the establishment of a “hybrid interconnector” in the North Sea from Belgium to the energy island in 2033.
  • The Netherlands and Denmark signed a “Ministerial endorsement” to analyse a specific configuration for connection between the Danish energy island and a Dutch offshore energy hub.
  • Germany and Denmark signed a Letter of Intent to initiate bilateral cooperation on green hydrogen based on renewable energy both onshore and offshore.

The North Sea Hydrogen Ports and Maritime Community (NS HyMaP) is organising a one day conference on Hydrogen Strategies and Co-operation in the North Sea Region in Edinburgh on 23 June 2022. The Esbjerg Declaration really stresses the need for greater co-operation across the Region both for offshore wind and for green hydrogen.  The Conference will look at EU and national  hydrogen strategies and examine their robustness and the way in which they have persuaded the private sector that North Sea  countries are serious about the role of hydrogen in energy transition and the need to develop a hydrogen economy.  International co-operation was featured in many of the strategies but the nature of this co-operation was not spelled out in any detail.  The Esbjerg Declaration starts to  develop the co-operation and indeed its signing was a historic day.

For further details and registration at the NS HyMaP Hydrogen Strategies and Co-operation in the North Sea Region – The Maritime Dimension go the Seminars page on the European Policy solutions website 


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