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More Wind Power, More Problems

Rising above the Baltic Sea and less than six miles (10 kilometers) from the coast of Denmark, the 161 wind turbines of the Nysted wind farm are largely undefended, according to a recent Reuters survey.

The turbines provide about 4 percent of Denmark’s power, sending power via two underwater cable connections and providing the nation with a renewable energy option that helps alleviate its reliance on Russian oil and gas.  

“European states and companies are only now starting to monitor and secure their windfarms,” Reuters reported.

Until recently, these turbines had no barriers or surveillance that would deter or dissuade potential attackers from damaging or destroying this infrastructure, according to Reuters. In a survey of 13 governments and interviews with several lawmakers, regulators, military, and industry officials, most responders indicated that there was no off-hours monitoring of European wind farms in the North and Baltic Seas.

According to the survey, only the British and Polish governments indicated that they have budgeted for security for upcoming offshore renewable energy projects. “The others declined to answer questions on budgetary commitments or said they were now looking into further funding,” Reuters said.

This could be a problem since the European Union is legally bound to almost double its renewable energy sources by 2030, and to achieve this goal, it will rely heavily on the wind sector, which is expected to provide 420 GW by that date.

And if nations along the North Sea are able to meet this target, Reuters estimated that it would take up to 3.6 billion euros to keep this infrastructure secure with active patrols and other forms of physical security.

Some wind farm developers think the responsibility of security for their infrastructure should be on governments or at least shared between the private and public sectors, especially as attacks on this infrastructure present national security issues. However, most governments think that the developers should be the ones to pay, even if naval forces patrol a nation’s waters. “Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany either told Reuters or have said elsewhere that it is primarily industry’s responsibility to invest and secure wind farms; Poland and Belgium have said it was a shared responsibility, and the other countries said the state or navy should have a role to play in risk assessment or in threat situations,” Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, the European Commission announced an action plan that will support wind energy in the EU, which included the goal to reduce cybersecurity threats.