Monday, 28 August 2017

North Sea Offshore Grid - New Study Highlights Need for Public Money

The European Commission published a new study about an offshore electricity grid in the Irish Seas and the North Sea. The grid is supposed to deal with increasing offshore renewable energy production in the region. The study points to the need for a high level of planning and coordination that has to be deployed in the construction of an offshore renewable energy system. It also suggests that considerable public money is needed for the project.

The new study (https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/studies/environmental-baseline-study-development-renewable-energy-sources-energy-storages-and-meshed) looked into the possibility of developing an offshore electricity grid that would extend over the territorial waters of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The study examines the impact of different grid configurations (with different levels of connection between the countries' energy networks) on the area and its marine environment, and considers how to minimise ecological harm as much as possible (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/news/new-study-explores-renewables-potential-north-sea-and-irish-sea).

The findings of the study are primarily concerned with the environmental impact of a North Sea Offshore Grid. However, in its executive summary the study concludes (https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/c5f90ce5-7276-11e7-b2f2-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-33576265) that a hub approach will be the only way forward to develop the grid. According to the study, key hub points should be put into place upfront by the public, so that any investor would only be required to invest in the connection to the hub, an approach already partly realised in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, although those hubs are being directly connected to the respective national shore.


Particularly the scope of the study is interesting, given that a related project, the so-called North Sea Offshore Grid (North Seas Countries Offshore Grid Initiative (NSCOGI)) included Norway, whereas Norway is not listed as a country under investigation in the current study. Moreover, the study particularly focusses on the UK and its connection with both the Irish Seas and the North Sea, but the UK is about to leave the European Union.















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