The partners of the international consortium North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) presented the results of the project assessment phase. In recent months, the consortium has analyzed the possibilities and conditions for establishing one or more energy islands in the North Sea.

The consortium has conducted numerous studies, investigated a variety of scenarios, and conducted intensive meetings with policy makers, leading offshore wind farms and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The consortium's goal is to facilitate a large-scale roll-out and integration of offshore wind farms located far into the North Sea to the lowest possible social costs, while maintaining security of supply during the transition to a sustainable energy system. The vision is based on an internationally coordinated roll-out of so-called "hub and spoke" projects, which combine connection of offshore wind with interconnection of energy markets through international connections and smart integration of the electricity grid on land, including the conversion of electricity to gas (P2G). This approach will have major economic and environmental benefits.

NSWPH hub and spoke concept web

The consortium's studies provide answers to how the climate goals of the Paris Agreement can be met on time, and are consistent with current energy and climate agreements in, among others, the Netherlands and Denmark, as well as Germany's phasing out of coal and nuclear power.

SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS

  • The proposed "hub and spoke" concept is technically possible
  • A stepwise roll-out of energy islands of 10 to 15 GW is the next logical step towards a large-scale expansion of the offshore wind capacity
  • The first energy island will probably be electrically connected to land connected to the P2G on land to add flexibility to the energy system. The project can be completed in the early 2030s.
  • It is probably possible to construct the first energy island within the current legislative framework and with the current market design, i.e., current European and national legislation. However, in order to make the modular concept part of the long-term energy transition, it will be necessary to change national practices, approach, planning and policies.
  • According to all international studies and scenarios, the current deployment rate of 2 GW of offshore wind is insufficient to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. To utilize the full potential, 7 GW per year should be pursued.
  • The great wind potential in the North Sea means that it is possible to establish 180 GW towards 2045 by means of the consortium's approach.
  • An internationally coordinated approach could connect and integrate large-scale offshore wind power more efficiently and at a significantly lower price than a continued national approach
  • Long-term market stability is needed if stakeholders are to invest in and build the necessary supply chains
  • There is a need for immediate action in relation to agreeing how sustainable energy from sea-wind must be developed after 2030
  • Consortium has begun and is eager to facilitate discussions with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), policy makers and business: consultation rounds and international agreements are needed
  • Political decision makers and physical planners must make balanced decisions where they influence the environmental impact of the development of offshore wind farms in relation to the technical-economic impact and the importance of meeting the long-term climate goals
  • The use of P2G in interconnection with other sectors will benefit the overall energy system

The consortium has examined the technical aspects of a first energy-less design and various transmission structures. Among other things, scenarios have been investigated exclusively with electricity from the sea to shore, a combination of electricity and hydrogen and only hydrogen. The consortium has also investigated P2G / P2X scenarios on the sea as well as on land.

It is estimated that the first hub and spoke project with a capacity of 10 to 15 GW can be ready in the early 2030s and that it will mainly consist of the transmission of electricity from sea to shore when P2G on the sea on a large scale at that time is not considered technically feasible. The timetable for the development of the first energy island is very tight, and the project must, as far as possible, comply with the current legislation and network planning process. As costs fall and technologies are matured, future hub and spoke projects are expected to include the conversion of electricity to hydrogen to reduce overall system costs, facilitate onshore grid integration, increase system flexibility, and optimize socio-economic gains.

NSWPH Hub configuration types web

The large expansion of offshore wind in the North Sea and the phasing out of production capacity based on fossil fuels increase the need to transport a significant part of the produced wind energy into the country.

By converting the electricity into gas when it has been shipped ashore and then transporting the gas to areas of high demand far inland, bottlenecks in the electricity transmission network can be remedied. It can thus reduce the risk of interruptions due to bottlenecks in the transmission network by incorporating varying renewable electricity production. The utilization of synergies between production from offshore wind and fuel produced from renewable energy at large coastal industrial plants can also support the integration of the energy from large-scale offshore wind farms into the energy system. This reduces the restrictions on the electricity transmission network, as it becomes easy to switch between electricity generation and consumption.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub consortium (NSWPH) supports the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the related commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and in the countries of the North Sea region. The international consortium consisting of TenneT, Energinet, Gasunie and Port of Rotterdam assesses and develops technical concepts and solutions to deliver the large capacities required to produce renewable energy, while at the same time doing so with the lowest possible environmental impact and the lowest possible costs.

When large wind areas far from land in the future (after 2030) have been designated for development, it will be possible to develop several energy islands that will function as central platforms to support the infrastructure needed to transport the energy there. where, for example, it is transformed into gas (including and in particular green hydrogen), instead of using transformer stations at sea, as is common today.

The offshore wind capacity in the North Sea is expected to be between 70 and 150 GW in 2040 and up to 180 GW in 2045, and the expansion is expected to take place in stages and in modules. Depending on the development, NSWPH may well be laying the foundation for us to succeed in delivering green energy to hundreds of millions of Europeans.

Torben Glar, technical director of Energinet and steering committee member of the North Sea Wind Power Hub consortium, says, “The enormous wind potential of the North Sea will play a decisive role in the green European energy system of the future, and with a strong regional coordination between the North Sea countries, we can ensure that the expansion takes place so cheap, efficient and gentle for the surroundings as possible. The vision of establishing international wind energy hubs in the North Sea can ensure a long-term and coordinated utilization of the area's enormous wind potential. The previous work in the project clearly shows that it is both economically and technically possible to implement the vision, and the project is now moving into the next phase, where the focus is on preparing the construction of the first potential energy island.”