Wind energy hub planned for the North Sea

Thursday, 27 April, 2017 - 11:15
This aritficial could be a very efficient and affordable way for the countries around the North Sea to meet the future demand for more renewable energy. (Graphic: TenneT)
This aritficial could be a very efficient and affordable way for the countries around the North Sea to meet the future demand for more renewable energy. (Graphic: TenneT)

The transmission system operators TenneT and Energinet.dk have initiated a futuristic project to create an artificial island in the North Sea to inexpensively distribute electricity from offshore wind farms.

The Dutch grid operator TenneT TSO B.V., its German subsidiary TenneT TSO GmbH and the Danish company Energinet.dk are planning to build a central wind energy hub in the North Sea. The companies signed a corresponding agreement at the end of March, making the plans they had already introduced in 2016 official. "This cooperation with Energinet.dk is an invitation to the transmission grid operators and other infrastructure companies working in the North Sea to join our initiative," TenneT TSO's Chairman of the Board Mel Kroon said. The goal is to evaluate the feasibility of creating an artificial island for the distribution of offshore wind power. The companies initially intend to build a 6 km2 artificial island to serve as a distribution hub for offshore wind power on the Dutch part of Dogger Bank, a 320 km long and 120 km wide shoal in the North Sea. Large offshore wind farms will then be connected to this distribution island. Shorter cable lines from offshore wind farms and easier installation of the converters on dry land will make energy generation on the high seas effective and simultaneously reduce the cost of energy transmission. HVDC lines will be laid from the hub to the countries bordering the North Sea to distribute the wind power generated at sea. At the same time, the transmission lines can be used as interconnectors between the electricity markets of individual countries. This could create further cost advantages by allowing offshore wind power to be transmitted to markets where the best electricity prices are paid. TenneT manager Kroon is confident that energy prices of 50 euros/MWh for offshore wind power can be achieved with the Dogger Bank hub.

"This could actually be a very efficient and affordable way for the countries around the North Sea to meet the future demand for more renewable energy", said Torben Glar Nielsen, CTO of Energinet.dk. In order to achieve the EU's wind power expansion goals, it will be necessary to operate wind farms much further from the coast in the future than is done today. In addition, suitable sites will no longer be available on land or in coastal areas in a few years, so the Dogger Bank hub will be an appropriate solution.  The cooperation partners hope that the first distribution island with a capacity of 70,000 to 100,000 MW could go into operation as early as 2035. By 2050, they see a potential of up to 150,000 MW distributed across several islands. They also want to evaluate whether converting electricity into gas is feasible on the islands. This would allow surplus wind energy to be stored.

Kai Eckert

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