Belgium will be joining forces with neighbouring Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands to create North Sea Europe's largest sustainable energy plant to produce energy more locally.
In light of the conflict in Ukraine and Europe's continued dependence on Russia for fossil fuel imports, the EU has repeatedly called for more energy independence. The cooperative initiative in the bloc's North Sea is hoped to assist in attaining this goal.
"The Ukrainian crisis clearly shows that we, as European countries, must strive to produce our energy more locally. By focusing more on renewable energy, we not only reduce our dependence, but we also better protect our citizens and businesses from high prices and promote a sustainable environment," Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stated.
According to a government statement, the project will consist of multiple connected offshore energy projects and hubs, offshore wind production at a massive scale as well as electricity and green hydrogen interconnectors.
Together with his Danish, German and Dutch colleagues, De Croo signed the ambitious Esbjerg Declaration to make the North Sea Europe's green powerhouse at the North Sea Summit. Belgium's ambition is to quadruple its offshore wind capacity to almost 6 GW by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040.
"This is a historic day for Europe and for our country. Energy is now being used as a weapon; the victims are our families and businesses, who are facing record high bills," Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten said.
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She stressed that this initiative should increase the country's energy independence and reduce both people's bills and CO2 emissions.
In the last decade, Belgium has developed the second-highest offshore capacity in the world per capita after Denmark but before the UK, the Netherlands and Germany. It is also building the first-ever hybrid energy island in the Belgian North Sea to connect its own wind farms and other countries.
The announcement comes in light of a recent report which showed that human activity is increasingly causing harm to the planet. In response to the report, the UN called on governments to end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition "before we incinerate our only home."