A report drawn up by DNV GL on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in the Netherlands assessing post-2030 energy scenarios predicts that, at the very least, the Dutch sector of the North Sea could provide 38 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2050 and could potentially provide the country with 72 GW
North Sea Energy Outlook (NEO) establishes framework conditions for future growth in the offshore wind sector. It states that, in the period 2030-2050, offshore wind will make up the majority of electricity production in the Netherlands.
Expected capacities of 38 GW or 72 GW were factored into two scenarios studied in the report, ‘Import-Dependent’ and ‘Self-Sufficient’ scenarios, respectively.
But the report warns that to achieve these targets by 2050, a higher rate of growth is required than currently planned for 2020-2030. It also warns that more needs to be done to develop the electrical infrastructure required offshore and on land for massive offshore wind growth, ensure marine spatial planning issues are addressed, and ensure production of green hydrogen from offshore wind matches anticipated demand from industry in the country.
“If future prospects are satisfactory, it is expected the industry can scale up to the extent required,” said the authors of the report, who received input from a working group comprising EBN, Gasunie, TenneT, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), Top Sector Energy and the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management. Parties from the wider North Sea domain also contributed to it.
“Offshore wind energy plays an important role in making the Dutch energy supply more sustainable and achieving climate objectives,” said the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO), the country’s enterprise agency.
It noted that an earlier study, the 2030 Offshore Wind Energy Roadmap, provides a blueprint on how and where new offshore windfarms will be built in the period up to and including 2030, but asked ‘What role will offshore wind energy play in the period after that?’ And under what conditions could offshore wind help to increase sustainability in the 2030-2050 period?
“The NEO provides a scientifically based overview of the possibilities for using the North Sea to increase sustainability after 2030, providing insight into opportunities for further growth of offshore wind energy, and its consequences for the national energy system,” said the RVO.
It noted that around 70% of the Netherland’s electricity consumption is expected to come from wind and solar energy by 2030, more than half of which will be produced by offshore windfarms.
The NEO concludes that, such is its potential for wind energy development and CO2 storage, the North Sea is “indispensable when it comes to achieving the climate target of a 95% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.”
One important precondition for the growth of offshore wind after 2030 is that the electricity generated by windfarms in the North Sea must be properly integrated into the energy system. This means the required infrastructure and grid connections must be available in good time. “It is therefore important for the spatial planning of windfarms that the landfall and land-based infrastructure be properly co-ordinated,” said the report. “This is why an analysis of landfall options for offshore wind in the period 2030 to 2040 – the so-called ‘VAWOZ’ project – recently got underway.”
The VAWOZ project forms the link between the North Sea 2022-2027 programme, which focuses on marine spatial planning, and the National Energy Network Programme, which focuses on spatial planning for the energy system on land.
New areas for offshore wind energy will be designated, after careful consideration of all of the interests in the North Sea. An integral part of this assessment includes carrying out an environmental impact assessment and incorporating the results from an offshore wind environmental programme.
The NEO also states that the market will only be willing to make ongoing, scaled-up investments in offshore wind “if there is a healthy and stable business case for sustainable energy producers.”
In concrete terms, it states, this means more insight is required into the development of demand for green hydrogen produced using electricity from offshore wind.