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Shared visions, stronger winds: Boosting Europe's strategy for offshore wind energy

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Headshot of Rebecca Verhaeghe
by Rebecca Verhaeghe
5 minutes
Aerial photo of a blue North Sea dotted with wind turbines, and with a yellow test facility.

After years of depending on regulation for growth in the sector, renewable energy sources have become a powerful and cost-effective source of electricity. 

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The costs of both solar and wind have fallen so drastically that in Europe, like elsewhere in the world, that wind power has become cheaper than traditional high-carbon energy resources.

As costs continue to fall and wind and solar become mainstream, the renewable energy sector will only keep growing and solidifying as a strong investment opportunity.

Big ambitions for North Sea energy

Europe’s wind power is now needed more than ever. Nine Heads of State & Government, along with the President of the EU Commission, convened in Ostend (Belgium) in April 2023 to solidify fresh commitments concerning the expansion of offshore wind projects in the North Sea.

This initiative follows up on the summit in 2022 involving Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands in Esbjerg. Joining these four nations are France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, and the UK. The Industry Declaration is backed by more than 100 companies spanning the entire spectrum of offshore wind and renewable hydrogen industries in Europe and outlines the steps these governments should take to realise their offshore wind ambitions.

Inn2POWER: Unleashing the power of supply chains

In 2016, 11 partners from five countries formed a partnership focused on promoting the development of offshore wind in the North Sea region.

Organisations based in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK participated in a seven-year venture, dubbed Innovation to Push Offshore Wind Energy Regions, or Inn2POWER.

The Inn2POWER partnership focused on strengthening the relationship between the five countries, stimulating collaboration between small and medium-sized enterprises within the offshore wind and green hydrogen industries, facilitating access to test and demonstration facilities, addressing the need for a workforce in the sector, and gaining more insight into the demand and supply sides of offshore test facilities that are active in green hydrogen, both currently and in the near future.

Learn more about the context of the Inn2POWER project in the video below: 

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Company Directory for Offshore Wind and Green Hydrogen

One of the project's key achievements is the creation of an interactive online company directory focused on the offshore wind and green hydrogen sector.

The directory provides companies with a platform to showcase their organisation. And crucially, the website enables users to explore and search the European offshore wind and green hydrogen supply chain for potential partners and customers.

A whopping 1,999 companies have registered on the company directory. Moreover, we will be enhancing, expanding, and updating the developed 'Company Directory' platform by incorporating additional layers that focus on training facilities, particularly in the offshore wind sector. This means that the company directory will not only be sustained in the future but will also be expanded with supplementary features to align with the industry's growing demands.

The Inn2Power project has not only provided us with deeper insights into the offshore market but has also increased our visibility to other potential customers.

Marc Vereecken, Market Manager Offshore, Citymesh, Belgium
A groupo of people seated around a table in front of a roll-up displaying a wind turbine.

Inn2POWER organised 20 business-to-business matchmaking events across Europe, involving 1,500 professionals active in offshore wind and/ or green hydrogen. Photo: Inn2POWER.

Providing access to test facilities

To plan and implement offshore wind and green hydrogen projects, access to test facilities is key for many companies in the offshore supply chains.

To address this need, Inn2POWER has developed an online directory of international test facilities for the offshore wind industry. By bridging the gap between companies and test facilities, Inn2POWER is driving innovation and supporting the growth of the offshore wind industry.

Yellow platform above a blue sea, set against a light blue sky.

Blue Accelerator, one of the North Sea test facilities listed in the directory. This platform allows testing above, on, and under water. Photo: Inn2POWER. 

Addressing work force challenges

For many SMEs in the offshore wind energy sector, challenges related to qualification, training, and employee recruitment can be daunting. To tackle this, Inn2POWER developed an Offshore Wind Energy MBA, designed for all professionals from the offshore wind industry.

Additionally, during the project’s lifetime, significant strides were made towards the establishment of an XRtraining lab for the Blue Economy in Ostend (The Reef) offering a wide range of possibilities to enhance the skills of employees working in the blue economy. This state-of-the-art training center will be equipped with cutting-edge technologies, including a windfarm control room, providing employees with a safe and immersive environment for training.

We also addressed the need for skilled labour in the future by involving young people. For example, Inn2POWER created an escape room experience to raise awareness among young individuals about the economic, ecological, and socio-economic advantages of the offshore wind industry. This initiative highlights educational paths such as STEM programmes in secondary education and career opportunities within the sector.

In addition, we engaged with the broader public to highlight the benefits of offshore wind energy. In Flanders, we commissioned two renowned cartoonists to create a series of cartoons featuring a popular Belgian comics figure, Cowboy Henk, humorously illustrating the advantages of wind turbines. These paintings were exhibited along the coastline.

Worker with a helmet walking next to two wind turbine blades lying on the ground.

The wind industry sustained 300,000 jobs in the EU in 2022, according to WindEurope. With the planned expansion of offshore wind in the North Sea, this could grow dramatically. Image: Inn2POWER.

Green hydrogen state of the nations

The Inn2POWER project has produced country-specific green hydrogen reports for Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK.

These reports provide a concise yet comprehensive overview of the current state of affairs and potential opportunities in the green hydrogen sector for each respective country.

A pioneer

The Inn2POWER partnership focused on strengthening collaboration among the five countries to boost the offshore wind industry. We contributed by:

  • Stimulating collaboration between small and medium-sized enterprises within the offshore wind and green hydrogen industries;
  • Facilitating access to test and demonstration facilities;
  • Addressing the need for a skilled workforce in the sector; and
  • Gaining more insight into the demand and supply sides of offshore test facilities that are active in green hydrogen, both currently and in the near future.

In summary, the Inn2POWER project was a pioneer that played a crucial role in laying the cornerstones for the burgeoning offshore wind and green hydrogen industries. Our work is being carried forward and is set to expand in the coming years.  

A child laying a puzzle showing a part of a wind turbine.

Youngster at work to break out of Inn2POWER's escape room. Photo: Inn2POWER.

Top 3 project highlights


Company directory

1999 companies across the North Sea region actively use the online directory, expanding their business connections and market reach in the offshore wind and green hydrogen sectors.


Offshore wind test facilities

Inn2POWER made it easier for SME to find and access test facilities by collecting test platforms in the North Sea in a new online directory. 


Upskilling the offshore wind workforce

Inn2POWER successfully launched a new MBA course for the offshore wind industry. 

Learn more

Visit the project website to find comprehensive information about the Inn2POWER project. 


Feel free to reach out to the project: 

Project manager Rebecca Verhaeghe, email  

About the author

Rebecca Verhaeghe holding a microphone.

Rebecca Verhaeghe was the project manager of Inn2POWER on behalf of POM West-Vlaanderen, Cluster Blue Energy. She is a devoted project manager who brings her passion for renewable energy and sustainable solutions to her work in the field of blue energy. While relatively new to the industry, she has already made significant strides in driving innovation and promoting the use of blue energy sources.

Top photo by Inn2POWER. This photo won the top prize in the North Sea Photo Contest 2020 in the category "A Greener North Sea Region."