Wind Power Hub North Sea
An Energy Hub in the middle of the North Sea? Tennet launched a vision building an island as a hub, for wind power in the middle of the North Sea which will provide all neighboring countries green energy.
By connecting wind farms with a total capacity of over 30 gigawatts, the efficiency and costs will benefit the participating countries.
This plan was presented by TenneT last week. TenneT is the national high-voltage grid operator in the Netherlands and in a part of Germany.
From the press release TenneT
TenneT has developed a vision for achieving a comprehensive European electricity system, based on the ‘Hub and Spoke’ principle in the North Sea. Central to TenneT’s vision is the construction of an island in the middle of the North Sea as a hub:
- which can connect many wind farms
- from which distribution and transport of the generated wind power can be done to the North Sea Countries Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Norway, Germany and Denmark
- wherein the transmission cables also function as links between the energy markets of these countries:
Wind Connectors, which are able to discharge the wind power and permit international power trading
- at a location with relatively strong and stable wind strength
A realistic and achievable plan
Mel Kroon, CEO of TenneT:
“In Germany and more recently in the Netherlands, TenneT has the role of developer and operator of the offshore grid. From this responsibility we have taken the initiative to establish a realistic and achievable plan for development of the North Sea.
Cooperation between national governments, regulators, offshore (wind) industry, national network operators and environmental organizations is conditional to the achievement of European environmental objectives. This vision shows the cooperation between the North Sea countries “
North Sea Infrastructure: the vision
In order to realize the European targets for reducing emissions of CO2, Europe needs solar and wind energy on a large scale.
Moreover, wind and solar are complementary:
- more sun from spring to autumn
- and a greater amount of wind in the colder months
The stable energy system of the future, relies on sun and wind on a large scale. Individual countries can not reach such high volumes. Therefore Europe requires optimal cooperation and synergies.
European political declaration of June 6, 2016 on energy cooperation beween the North Sea Countries is an important step in the right direction. TenneT’s vision can be seen as a foundation. We focus on the development of the North Sea as a source and as a distribution center for the European energy transition.
The location for the island needs several requirements:
- a lot of wind
- a central location
- and relatively shallow water
The ‘Dogger Bank’ seems to meet all the requirements as the perfect location for this hub island.
Far at sea, but still cheaper
By building an island with wind farms around it, countries have technical and cost benefits:
the small distance between wind farms and the island where they are connected to, can use the much cheaper AC (alternating current) terminals. Moreover, considerable (cost) benefits can be achieved because the hub island will be a permanent location for people and resources:
- a joint, ongoing basis for builders of wind farms and infrastructure
- common storage of parts (eg. turbines, rotor blades, wind towers)
- strong reduction in transport costs: landing strip for airplanes and permanent residency opportunities for staff
joint maintenance facilities
- joint port facilities
Smart combination of wind farms and interconnectors
Wind power should reach the consumer in the most efficient way. The generated AC power will by converted to direct current for transport to the mainland of the North Sea countries. Building this converter station on the island is much cheaper than building these stations on platforms at sea.
The current utilization of a connection between the wind farm and mainland is around 40%. The effectivity can be much better by using the direct current also as an interconnector.
Than the transmission of direct current can be used to transport the wind power and for trading electricity between the member countries.
The hub island as an offshore wind farms and international connector can therefore raise the efficiency from 40% to 100%
The advantages of a hub island in the North Sea
In addition to the combination of wind farms with interconnectors and the economies of scale that can be achieved, the hub island offers more benefits:
- The Dogger Bank is relatively shallow, has a large surface area and can provide space for wind energy on a large scale
- The shallower, the lower the costs for construction of the wind farms and the island
- Of great importance is the stable and strong wind in that part of the North Sea
This produces a high yield of wind energy
- Existing large wind farms far out at sea and close to the hub island
Far shore will be near shore and scale means lower costs
- Equal power connectors can also be used as interconnectors
The efficiency of these compounds will grow from approximately 40% towards 100%
- People, components and assembly halls can be installed in an optimally organized complex offshore logistics and simplify the island
- A first ‘quick-scan’ of the impact on flora and fauna on the Dogger Bank allows both opportunities as well as potential risks for animals and biodiversity
Step by step
Before the development of a hub island, other options will have to be exploited. The next logical step for the Netherlands are:
- Already in development: wind energy areas Borssele, Dutch coast (south) and Dutch Coast (north).
All operating in 2023.
- The development of the offshore areas IJmuiden United (5-6 GW) and possibly other already designated wind areas. Possibly completed around 2024.
- Investigation the option of an international collaboration between the IJmuiden Wind Park and a British Wind Park.
Perhaps combined with an interconnector to Britain and an island.
From 2025 to 2030.
- The hub island (maybe on the Dogger Bank)
TenneT will start talking to the EU and the Member States to examine whether there is interest in an European collaboration. In addition, laws, regulations, objectives and finance will be important issues. TenneT will also start investigating IJmuiden Wind Park to regard technology, interconnection, conversion, input into the country and integration with existing infrastructure.
Also, TenneT will explore the possibilities with UK stakeholders to link IJmuiden with a British wind energy area.
- The hub island will be approximately 6 km2
This size is needed to connect tens of gigawatts of offshore wind power
- The island can be expanded with one or two modules of 6 km2
- Approximately 2000 GW solar PV and around 600 GW wind energy
- The interconnector is a connection (a cable in the seabed) between two countries, which provides international trade in electricity
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