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North Sea Infrastructure - TenneT

North Sea Infrastructure: the vision

Solar and wind energy will be necessary on a large scale because attainment of Europes targets for reducing CO2 emissions depends largely on the production of renewable electricity. Moreover, wind and solar energy are complementary: from spring to autumn there is more sun, while the colder months of the year bring more wind. So a sustainable and stable energy system for the future will need both sun and wind, both on a big scale (2). High volumes like these are unattainable by individual Member States, so there is a need for optimum cooperation. The European political declaration of 6 June 2016 on energy cooperation between the North Sea countries was an important step in this direction. TenneTs vision creates a basis, or point of departure, for a joint European approach up to 2050 and focuses specifically on developing the North Sea as a source and distribution hub for Europes energy transition. The location for the island must satisfy a number of suitability requirements. There must be a lot of wind, it must be centrally located and it must be in relatively shallow water. These criteria qualify the Dogger Bank as a location for the central hub. (2) Approximately 2000 GW of photovoltaics (according to the Delft University of Technology) and approximately 600 GW of wind energy (according to the European Wind Energy Association EWEA). 

Mel Kroon: It will be very important for the six European North Sea countries to be willing, in due course, to make their targets independent of national borders, which means agreeing that the electrons generated offshore must not necessarily be transmitted to their own country.

Far out at sea, but still cheaper

The areas relatively close to the shore, which are the first that must be utilised for offshore wind farms, will provide insufficient possibilities over the long haul to develop the required volumes of offshore wind energy. This makes it necessary to look for possibilities far out at sea. The disadvantage here is that the costs will be significantly higher. The construction and maintenance of the wind farms are higher and these must be connected via many relatively expensive, single direct current (DC) connections. Alternating current technology cannot be used for connecting offshore wind farms far out at sea because of an unacceptably high loss of electricity during transmission to the onshore grid. By building in the years ahead an island surrounded by wind farms (at a relatively short distance), wind energy obtained way out at sea will assume the cost benefits of near-shore wind thanks to the island. The smaller distance will allow use of the far cheaper alternating current (AC) connections. Further considerable (cost) benefits can be derived from an island, as it offers a permanent place for people and resources:

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