Belgian pioneers in offshore renewable energy join forces for second North Sea Summit in Ostend

The second North Sea Summit which is being organised by the Belgian Federal Government will have an important industrial outlook, since it will be supported by seven Belgian companies and federations. These are the system operators Fluxys and Elia, the hydraulic engineering specialists DEME and Jan De Nul, the Belgian Offshore Platform, the Belgian employers' association for technology companies Agoria and the Port Oostende. They will be welcoming the CEOs of 100 top European companies that work in the field of offshore renewable energy on Monday 24 April 2023. During two roundtable discussions, they will join national and European policymakers to discuss the future of the North Sea.

The largest coalition ever focusing on energy in the North Sea

The North Sea Summit in Ostend will follow in the footsteps of the May 2022 North Sea Summit held in Esbjerg, Denmark, and will aim to make the North Sea the new green power hub of Europe. By working together, accelerating and focusing on innovation, the European offshore sector can strengthen its leading position across the world and more quickly contribute to the establishment of a more sustainable, affordable and independent energy system. 

Following a suggestion from the Belgian Federal Government, the number of countries which were involved in the summit last year is being expanded from 4 (Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark) to 9 (UK, Ireland, France, Norway and Luxembourg). Along with experts from the offshore industry, the largest coalition ever focusing on energy in the North Sea will thus gather together in Ostend.

Discussions with 100 European industry front-runners

The North Sea Summit in Ostend will host national and European politicians and, in line with the Belgian Federal Government’s recommendations, 100 CEOs from large industrial companies.

The entire offshore renewable energy value chain will therefore be represented at the summit. Guests will include representatives from wind farm developers and investors; representatives from manufacturers of wind turbines, electrolysers, foundations and other related components; EPC contractors; ship operators; ports; and transmission system operators. The latter are all essential for the building, integration and operation of offshore renewable energy technology.  

The North Sea Summit will include two strands: a political strand and an industry strand. Representatives from industry will be hosted at their own separate location. Political leaders will join them at two different points during the day.

At the start of the conference, a roundtable discussion will be held, which the energy ministers will attend alongside European Commissioner Kadri Simson. Additionally, towards the end of the day, the heads of state and governments and Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, will join industry representatives for the second time.  

Together, they will take part in discussions related to supply chains and competitiveness, enhanced European cooperation, grid infrastructure investments, innovation and the acceleration of offshore renewable energy deployment. Building on last year’s summit in Esbjerg, the expansion of green hydrogen will also be discussed.

7 Belgian partners

In terms of the timetable for representatives from European industry, the Belgian Government established a partnership with 7 Belgian companies and federations that are making a significant mark on the development of offshore renewable energy in the North Sea and beyond. Their representatives will therefore have a prominent voice during the roundtable discussions.

"Ports are essential nodes in the supply chains of the offshore wind turbine industry. Ports which are key contributors to the diversification of our energy supply and the acceleration of renewable energy should be appropriately recognised and be part of the European transport infrastructure network"

“The North Sea will become the engine of Europe’s economy. This will only succeed if we develop the necessary infrastructure for it, which will look different compared with today. The future offshore grid needs new innovations such as hybrid interconnectors (interconnectors that are linked to wind farms) and energy hubs such as the first artificial island we are building in the Belgian North Sea."

"A balanced system of electrification and hydrogen in the North Sea is the way forward.  Hydrogen can also be stored to secure our energy supply in the medium to long term. In addition, carbon removal technologies are needed to capture unavoidable emissions from industrial processes. The North Sea has many depleted oil and gas reservoirs and aquifers that can be used for the permanent storage of CO2."

"Industry is ready to convert as much North Sea wind as possible into renewable energy for citizens and businesses. We ask the heads of state and governments and the President of the European Commission to accelerate their work on a robust legal framework. This is necessary in order to attract investments in the production, transport and storage of North Sea energy."

"By combining our knowledge, expertise and ambitions, we as the Belgian and European offshore industry can take on a leading role in accelerating the energy transition, boosting energy security, anchoring industry in Europe and strengthening the European lead in offshore technology. To be successful in this, however, it is important to address urgent needs around the supply chain, human resources and capacity to successfully realise these ambitions."

"As we face geopolitical instability, the offshore energy sector needs a long-term stable investment environment. We are pioneers and world leaders in our sector, but the European supply chain (wind farm components, installation vessels, etc.) needs to be strengthened so that we have a guaranteed supply of parts at competitive prices. It is also essential to have a sound compensation mechanism for offshore wind farms that protects both consumers and the supply chain."

“The European offshore energy sector has the know-how and capabilities to help realise the energy transition, make Europe more energy independent and anchor these activities in Europe. DEME is a prime example of this and is extremely well positioned to continue providing the innovative solutions needed for this green future. This North Sea Summit is important for highlighting the opportunities, but also the challenges and the framework conditions that need to be addressed to achieve these goals."

Overview of European industry and federations participating in Ostend

For Belgium

Port Oostende, John Cockerill, DEME, Jan De Nul, Besix, Smulders, Sibelco, Parkwind, Fluxys, Elia, ArcelorMittal, Solvay, Ackermans & van Haaren, North Sea Port, Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Agoria, Belgian Offshore Platform, Virya and Otary

For Denmark

Vestas, NKT Group, Ørsted, Energinet, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, Port of Esbjerg, Green Power Denmark, Haldor Topsoe, Maersk, Dansk Industri, Dansk Erhverv, Danske Rederier and DSV.

For France

Nexans, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, Eiffage, Port du Havre, Alstom, Engie, EDF, TotalEnergies, RTE, GRTgaz, EVOLEN, France Énergie Éolienne, McPhy, Port de Saint-Nazaire and Port de Dunkerque.

For Germany

Linde, Siemens Gamesa, RWE, OGE, GASCADE, 50Hertz, Amprion, BASF, ThyssenKrupp, BWO, EnBW, Iberdrola Germany and KfW.

For Ireland

XOCEAN, Electricity Supply Board, Mainstream Renewable Power, Simply Blue Group, SuperNode, MaresConnect, EirGrid, Enterprise Ireland, Temporis and Wind Energy Ireland.

For The Netherlands

NWEA, IRO, Van Oord, Sif, TenneT, Gasunie, Port of Rotterdam, Eneco, GBM Works and Huisman.

For Norway

Aibel, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, Aker Solutions, Equinor, Statkraft, Statnett, NVE, DNV, NorSea/ Wilhelmsen and Norge Mining.

For the UK

Shell, BP, SSE, National Grid Ventures, ScottishPower, Associated British Ports, Energy UK, Renewables UK, Catalyst Technologies, The Crown Estate, National Gas and INEOS.

European associations

WindEurope, Clean Hydrogen Partnership, European Sea Ports Organisation, Europacable, EIB, WWF and Renewables Grid Initiative