European electricity transmission system operator TenneT, which currently serves the Dutch and German markets, has put forward a plan to create an energy island that would form the basis of a massive cross-border offshore wind energy project that would export power to the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark
Speaking during a 15 September 2020 webinar titled Europe’s Offshore Wind Vision, TenneT Holding BV chief executive Manon van Beek said the company believed a 12-MW offshore energy island or hub was feasible and could help supply the three countries with green power. In the longer term, she suggested, energy hubs of this type could help Europe meet its ambitious climate goals.
This is not the first time TenneT has proposed the idea of energy islands, but the concept has gained traction in recent months, particularly since Denmark’s parliament approved a plan to build energy hubs.
Ms van Beek said Europe “needs to bring offshore wind to the next level” and neighbouring European states need to strengthen the level of collaboration between them.
“We must take a step in the direction of a European roadmap that is based on cross-border collaboration,” she said. “We really have to move now from national to international projects. We need a European framework, a European regulatory framework.”
Responding to Ms van Beek’s proposal, Dutch Ministry of Economics and Climate Policy director general climate and energy Sandor Gaastra agreed that international collaboration was essential and also highlighted the importance of cross-border programmes.
Mr Gaastra also highlighted the need for an approach to marine spatial planning in Europe that could facilitate cross-border projects. The EU has an important role to play removing barriers to the realisation of such projects, he said.
Danish Energy Agency director general Kristoffer Böttzauw agreed that Europe needs to take steps to “bring offshore wind to the next level.” He noted that Denmark recently proposed the construction of two energy islands, one in the North Sea and one in the Baltic. The capacity of the North Sea energy island could eventually be expanded to 10 GW.
Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy state secretary Andreas Feicht focused on the role that grid connection would play in plans for energy islands. He also highlighted the potential of meshed grids connecting them with end users.
Mr Gaastra said it would be important to address how and where energy produced from massive offshore wind projects of this type would be brought ashore. He also said it was important to address potential environmental issues associated with bringing huge amounts of power ashore and carefully identify where that might take place.
In a statement released after the event, WindEurope said the European wind industry believes that hybrid projects should account for 100-150 GW of the total 450 GW of offshore wind by 2050.
“The EU should facilitate these projects,” it said. “There needs to be an enabling framework which clarifies the market arrangements for hybrid projects and at the same time incentivises windfarm developers to invest in them.
“If the revenue perspective is unclear, the industry won’t want to build hybrid projects, and hybrids won’t happen.
“One option for hybrids may be for them to have their own stand-alone bidding zones. But this would require a fairer distribution of TSO congestion revenues to windfarm owners in order to give them the revenue perspective needed for investment.
“Such a model may require changes to regulation. These would take some time to agree. So the sensible thing would be to apply transitional arrangements for hybrid projects that the industry wants to start taking forward now.
“Europe must avoid a delay in developing these projects while we wait for clarity on the rules.”
WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said, “Hybrid cross-border offshore windfarms, with connections to more than one country, will be a big part of offshore wind. They save money and space and improve energy flows across Europe. The EU needs to create a framework as soon as possible that will allow Europe to start developing these projects.”