National Grid Ventures, the commercial development arm of National Grid plc, and Dutch transmission system operator TenneT are to explore the feasibility of connecting Dutch and British offshore windfarms to the energy systems in both countries via interconnectors
The development would be the first of its kind for the UK and the Netherlands in the North Sea.
TenneT chief executive Manon van Beek said, “TenneT has been at the forefront of developing multi-purpose interconnection to enable the large-scale growth of offshore wind in the North Sea.
“This agreement allows us to work with National Grid in the North Sea to develop innovative infrastructure that uses every spare electron of offshore wind generation to reach our decarbonisation targets.”
National Grid Ventures managing director Jon Butterworth said, “The UK’s binding commitment to net zero by 2050 and the European Green Deal have set clear goals for a low-carbon future for generations to come. Multipurpose interconnectors have the potential to act as an enabler for new offshore wind projects. We are delighted to be partnering with TenneT to deliver a vision to help realise the full green energy potential of the North Sea.”
Responding to the announcement, RenewableUK director of future electricity systems Barnaby Wharton said, “Innovative projects like this will help us to maximise the use of the massive amount of power we generate from offshore wind, which is set to be the dominant technology in our energy system by the end of this decade.
“Building more interconnectors will drive down costs for consumers even further by allowing more clean electricity to flow between countries.”
Harnessing the full potential of offshore wind will play a vital role in decarbonising European economies and societies by 2050. The UK and the Netherlands have both established ambitious targets to expand offshore wind capacity in the North Sea, with the UK Government recently announcing it was targeting 40 GW by 2030. The Dutch have targeted 11.5 GW by 2030 and another increase of 20-40 GW by 2050. Delivering such large-scale offshore wind growth efficiently will require significant amounts of new infrastructure and close co-operation between countries around the North Sea.
The announcement follows a recent decision by the Dutch Government to future-proof the first far shore high voltage direct current (HVDC) 2-GW offshore transmission grids in the Netherlands for the IJmuiden Ver windfarm zone, approximately 80 km off the country’s northwest coast.
Under the terms of the co-operation agreement, TenneT and National Grid Ventures will explore the development of a multi-purpose interconnector to simultaneously connect up to 4 GW of British and Dutch offshore wind between the British and Dutch electricity systems, providing an additional 2 GW of interconnection capacity between the countries.
By connecting into both systems, the interconnector will enable spare transmission capacity to be used to trade electricity between the countries, thereby increasing the potential utilisation of offshore infrastructure. Reducing the amount of infrastructure needed will also mitigate the environmental impact on coastal communities, compared to the current approach in which interconnectors and windfarms are developed and connected separately.
The two companies aim to have a path-finder project defined by the end of 2021 with a view to delivering an operational asset by 2029.