In March three European transmission system operators signed an agreement to develop a large renewable European electricity system on 'Power Link' islands in the middle of the North Sea with the aim of supplying up to 100 million Europeans with renewable energy by 2050.
The three partners on the project are TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands), Energinet.dk (Denmark) and TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany).
TenneT first unveiled its vision of the North Sea Wind Power Hub in June 2016. The goal is to achieve a multi-party consortium which will realize the North Sea Wind Power Hub project which may ultimately include several Power Link Islands. These islands will be large offshore connection points for thousands of future wind turbines with interconnections to surrounding countries.
The first Power Link Island will be located in the relatively shallow waters of Dogger Bank, a large sandbank in the middle of the North Sea where wind conditions are excellent. Many wind farms could be connected to the North Sea Wind Power Hub, which could eventually supply 70,000 MW to 100,000 MW.
The generated wind energy can be distributed and transmitted over direct current lines to the North Sea countries of the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Belgium. Transmission cables will simultaneously function as interconnectors between the energy markets. This means that in addition to transmitting wind electricity to the connected countries, these 'wind connectors' will also enable the countries to trade electricity.
Commitment to renewable energy
In 2016 the North Seas countries signed a Political Declaration and action plan that emphasised their commitment to developing offshore renewable energy and the necessary infrastructure in the region. Solar and wind energy will be necessary on a large scale to achieve European targets for reducing CO2 emissions. Wind and solar energy complement each other: there is more sun from spring to autumn, and more wind in the colder and darker months of the year. So a sustainable and stable energy system for the future will need both solar and wind energy on a large scale. This requires optimum cooperation and synergy because it cannot be accomplished by individual member states on their own. The North Sea Wind Power Hub will be an important next step towards accomplishing this vision and the 2050 climate goals formulated in the Paris Agreement (COP21).
The vision of the three TSOs provides a basis for a joint European approach up to 2050 and focuses specifically on developing the North Sea as a source of and a distribution centre for Europe’s energy transition. The location of the first Power Link Island should satisfy a number of requirements: optimal wind conditions, centrally located and in relatively shallow water. Staff, components and assembly workshops can be stationed on the island, thus optimising and simplifying complex offshore logistics.
In short, Power Link islands in the middle of the North Sea offers everything necessary to make offshore wind energy a success.
At the first meeting of the North Seas Energy Forum in March, European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: “The North Sea Wind Power Hub shows what human ingenuity can achieve when we work across Europe's borders. This Wind Power Hub will reduce the costs of offshore wind energy and boost growth and jobs in this sector. It provides strong tail winds to our fight against climate change and to Europe's global leadership in renewable energies.”