As Europe turns to renewable sources to diversify energy supplies away from Russian oil and gas, a peaceful marine scene conceals a billion-dollar security headache.
Rising above the Baltic Sea less than 10 km (6 miles) off the coast of Denmark, 161 wind turbines spin slowly. They supply around 4% of the country’s power, sent to shore through two cable connections.
The turbines have no barriers or surveillance.
“Our technicians are only here until five o’clock in the afternoon, then they go home,” said Thomas Almegaard, head of operations at Nysted wind farm, co-owned and operated by Denmark-based Orsted, the world’s biggest offshore wind developer.
“If the Russians wanted to cause damage, they could do it easily,” he told Reuters aboard a service vessel as it sailed through the wind farm.
“We don’t do any monitoring.”
The picture is similar across the North and Baltic Seas, Reuters found in a survey of 13 governments and interviews with a dozen lawmakers, regulators, military and industry officials. European states and companies are only now starting to monitor and secure their windfarms, the reporting showed.
Developers like Orsted think governments should take the lead and help provide the billions of dollars needed to protect their infrastructure. But even as North Sea countries alone plan to install enough wind power for more than 100 million homes by 2030, governments are still considering how much they can spend to safeguard such offshore assets.
Time is short: The EU has a legally binding goal to nearly double renewable sources as a share of total energy by 2030, to 42.5%, requiring a rapid expansion of offshore wind.
The risk was underlined last year with attacks by unidentified saboteurs on the Nord Stream pipeline. Again this month, Finland and Sweden said a subsea gas pipeline and telecommunications cables had been damaged, including a link between NATO members Finland and Estonia. Finland said its review of vessels in the area at the time found a Russian and a Chinese ship among them.
Source : Reuters