British and Dutch electricity grid operators are to explore the possibility of connecting North Sea wind farms to BOTH countries’ energy systems.
National Grid and the Netherlands’ equivalent, TenneT have signed a co-operation agreement to look at the feasibility of the pioneering move.
The UK is leading on offshore wind deployment, with a target of 40GW by 2030.
Across the North Sea the Dutch are targeting 11.5GW by 2030, upping to between 20GW and 40GW by 2050.
TenneT and National Grid Ventures will explore the development of a multi-purpose interconnector to simultaneously connect up to 4GW of British and Dutch offshore wind.
It will enable spare transmission capacity to be used to trade electricity between the countries, increasing the potential use of offshore infrastructure, while potentially reducing the amount of infrastructure needed, mitigating environmental impact.
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.
Jon Butterworth, managing director of National Grid Ventures, 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.
“Multi-Purpose Interconnectors have the potential to act as a key enabler for new offshore wind projects and we’re delighted to be partnering once again with TenneT to deliver an innovative vision to help realise the full green energy potential of the North Sea.”
Build-outs off East Anglia would be closest to the Dutch mainland with significant offshore wind assets off the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire coast too.
National Grid confirmed it is “exploring all possibilities of offshore wind capacity”.
“UK wind farms which are in early or mid-development would be natural partners,” the spokesperson said, with a focus on The Crown Estate Round Four seabed leasing due progress already made on any prior.
Tennet is also behind plans for an artificial North Sea island to use as a hub for offshore wind, both to facilitate electricity transmission and operations and maintenance. Port of Grimsby currently leads the world in that field, with a clear path to 10GW of offshore wind and favourable proximity to future development too.
Manon van Beek, chief executive of TenneT, 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.”
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