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CMS Expert Guide to offshore wind law in Northern Europe

In 1991 the first offshore wind project was installed off the coast of Denmark. Over the past 25 years offshore wind has become an integral part of the European energy mix. More than 3 GW of new offshore wind capacity was commissioned in Europe during 2017. This has resulted in a cumulative installed capacity exceeding 15 GW at the end of 2017, most of which is located in the North Sea, making Northern Europe a frontrunner in offshore wind.

Recent tender awards in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark show that offshore wind energy is rapidly improving its competitive position vis-a-vis conventional generation. Important structural cost reductions have been achieved and the industry’s cost reduction objectives for 2020 have been achieved well ahead of schedule.

Looking ahead, we see that many countries aim to increase their offshore wind capacity. The targets for the main offshore wind markets in Northern Europe – Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK – add up to 25 GW in 2020. The North Sea is expected to remain the main region for offshore deployment in the coming years, with significant developments also foreseen in the Baltic Sea and the Irish Sea.

While there are similarities between some of these markets, there are also important differences, e.g. in terms of location-specific factors, such as distance from shore and water depth, and applicable legislation in relation to spatial planning, permit, subsidy mechanisms and grid connection. The CMS Guide to offshore wind in Northern Europe provides insight into the regulatory framework for offshore wind in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. It is designed to assist in understanding the offshore wind sector across Northern Europe and highlights similarities as well as differences across the different jurisdictions.

The publication of this guide will take place in phases. Currently, chapters for the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and France are published on this webpage. Chapters on Germany and the UK will follow.

CMS has been, and continues to be, deeply involved in the development of offshore wind energy. We have worked on over 50 offshore wind projects in several jurisdictions, and have advised many leading companies in the sector on all aspects of offshore wind farms.

This guide is published in association with Bech-Bruun, Denmark’s largest law firm with a strong and highly specialised practice within offshore wind. We are delighted that Bech-Bruun has agreed to contribute the chapter on the Danish regulatory framework.

If you would like to receive more detailed information about the legal regime in a particular jurisdiction, please contact one of the authors of this guide, who will be happy to provide further information.