FILE – Two of the offshore wind turbines which have been constructed off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va. are viewed June 29, 2020. State regulators on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, approved an application from Dominion Energy Virginia to build an enormous offshore wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach and recover the cost from ratepayers. Now Germany, which has already been filling its North Sea waters with wind turbines, wants to do the same in the Baltic. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

By Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Germany’s foreign minister said Friday that estimates show the Baltic Sea can produce wind power that is “more than twice the installed capacity of all German coal-fired power stations” as the country works to meet climate change targets and wean itself off of Russian energy.

In a video message ahead of a meeting in Denmark’s capital, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Germany wants to hasten the expansion of wind power produced in the Baltic Sea.

The countries around the Baltic Sea “need to set the sails, work together and set course towards making our region more sustainable, more resilient and more secure,” Baerbock said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz has said Germany remains committed to ending its greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, the earliest of any major industrialized nation. To meet the goal, his government has said it would close coal-fired power plants that were reactivated during the war in Ukraine, end imports of Russian oil and coal this year and aim to stop using Russian gas within the next two years.

The potential for the Baltic Sea “is enormous,” Baerbock said. “The European Commission estimates that the Baltic Sea could potentially produce more than 90 gigawatts in wind energy. That is more than twice the installed capacity of all German coal-fired power stations.”

“Wind energy from the Baltic Sea will help us fight the climate crisis. And it is an investment in our security: it will help make us less dependent on gas from Russia,” Baerbock said.

On July 1, Germany took over the presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States for one year. The forum for regional cooperation consists of the European Union and 10 member nations: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the council suspended Russia from its activities. Moscow later said it had decided to withdraw from the council, saying the organization was turning into “an anti-Russian tool.”

In Copenhagen, Baerbock and Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod signed a plan for closer cooperation between their countries, which includes a plan “to dramatically scale up offshore wind capacity in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.”

Denmark is holding a meeting next week on the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm to discuss ways “to make the Baltic Sea region free of Russian energy and at the same time pave the way for a significant green transition.”

Those expected to attend include the EU commission president, Lithuania’s president, the prime ministers of Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Denmark and several energy ministers.

Speaking alongside Kofod after their meeting, Baerbock said it was important for European countries to show solidarity in the coming months, given Russia’s attempts to use energy supplies “as a weapon of war” and divide the 27-nation bloc.

Germany is studying what impact low water levels on its rivers after months of drought and high electricity demand from neighboring France due to the shutdown of nuclear plants there will have on energy markets over the coming months.

Baerbock, a member of the Greens party, said she was skeptical of the idea that extending the operating life of Germany’s three remaining atomic power plants would help tackle an expected gas shortage, but acknowledged that this might ease electricity bottlenecks.

“One needs to look at everything in the European context,” she said.

___

Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2022. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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