Dutch want to build international ‘energy islands’ in North Sea
The Dutch are launching a visionary plan to build up to ten ‘international’ energy islands in the North Sea. The goal is to connect several EU countries with the offshore wind parks and even produce ‘green’ hydrogen with them. By 2030, such an island could function as a ‘wind energy hub’, providing 10 to 15 gigawatt of electricity to power more than five million households each.
The islands could be built by raising the bed of sand, sink caissons or make a platform on poles like an oil rig. But they would need to be at least 10 to 100 times larger than an existing oil platform, Hans Coenen from Dutch Gasunie says. The Dutch gas distributor envisions factories on them to convert electricity to hydrogen as a storage solution and pipelines to bring the gas to land.
North Sea Wind Power Hub
The plan has matured with Dutch electricity grid administrator TenneT, Gasunie and the Rotterdam Port, and they already got the support of the Danish peer of TenneT, EnergiNet. They join forces in a consortium named ‘North Sea Wind Power Hub’.
With this new plan, Dutch electricity grid administrator TenneT is abandoning the idea, put forward two years ago, to build one mega island in the North Sea to serve as a colossal electricity plug to bring wind power to land.
One mega-island too complicated
They reckon now it would be too complicated to build a six square kilometer island that connects to all wind parks and even would have its harbour for gas tankers to transport hydrogen gas to land. Too many countries would be involved in building such a mega-island, which would take too much time.
The idea of several smaller islands is both technically and economically feasible, the Dutch say. Which design would be used for the smaller islands – sand islands, caissons or platforms – would largely depend on the exact location of it in the North Sea. Depth of the sea and beating of the waves is only one of the factors to reckon with.
The Dutch see the islands raised mostly between the Dutch-Danish coast and the coast of Great Brittain. The latter is called upon to join in, as is Norway, Germany, and other countries at the North Sea. TenneT CEO, Manon van Beek, also calls upon the European Commission to set its shoulder to the wheel.
An outline of the actual costs of such a project the Dutch planners don’t want to give. “It will be 30 to 40% cheaper than having far offshore wind parks deliver to only one country with one offshore cable,” manager Michiel Müller from the consortium says.
Seven gigawatts extra each year
The number of offshore wind parks in the North Sea has to be raised significantly, the consortium says, if Europe wants to reach the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement.
End of last year, there was an offshore electricity capacity of 13 gigawatts with the 2 gigawatts added in 2018. Some seven gigawatts extra per year in the period of 2023 to 2040 will be s needed, the study by the consortium claims.
Vattenfall to build a second wind park
On Thursday, news broke that Swedish energy concern, Vattenfall, has won the license to build a second wind park 20 km in front of the southern coast of the Netherlands, beating Shell, which was one of the competitors.
For the new wind park, an investment of 1,5 billion euros is needed. It should be ready by 2023 and provide 760 megawatts, the equivalent of ‘feeding’ 1 million households.