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North Sea Wind Power Hub Vision Presented at Clean Energy Ministerial

North Sea Wind Power HubIn order to achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate and energy goals efficiently and with limited costs, both international cooperation and innovation are necessary. This was the key message from the North Sea Wind Power Hub Consortium, as the consortium was provided with the opportunity to present its vision at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) on 24 May 2018.

Energy Ministers from most of the largest global economies, as well as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and The Netherlands (G20 + countries) took part in this year’s Clean Energy Ministerial. The meeting was held as a central part of the Nordic Clean Energy Week in Copenhagen and Malmö. The North Sea Wind Power Hub Consortium consists of Energinet, Gasunie, Port of Rotterdam, TenneT Netherlands and TenneT Germany and was represented at the meeting by Chairman of the Energinet Board, Mr Lars Barfoed. “The consortium shares a vision that is bold, but simple,” he explains. “We want to connect large-scale offshore wind power to a central hub and create new energy highways and trade corridors between the North Sea countries.”

By 2040, North Sea offshore wind power is expected to generate 70-150GW of electricity, corresponding to around one fifth of the EU’s power consumption. Thus, about 7-15 times more wind production than today is to be entered in the North Sea. In order to achieve that goal, there must be a close degree of planning and coordination between the countries. Furthermore, an international approach will significantly reduce infrastructure costs and lead to competitive energy prices. Instead of having each country connecting its own offshore windfarms, the first calculations show that up to 30% of the costs could be saved by an internationally coordinated roll-out.

“The vision requires a long-term and international perspective on optimising the huge wind energy resources available in the North Sea. We need to focus more on the whole picture, on regional synergies and how we can gradually and coordinated develop wind capacity and infrastructure in the North Sea, instead of building new windfarms each time as if they’re the last ones,” says Mr Barfoed. In addition to examining the perspectives in the central hub as a staging point for offshore wind power, the consortium is also looking into the development of electricity storage and conversion, including Power to Gas, as an activity to unfold offshore and thereby add value to the harvested offshore wind power. In addition, combining the strengths of the electricity and gas supply system can provide a key boost to the use of hydrogen as a sustainable solution in numerous applications in industry, transportation, and the built environment.

A hub in the North Sea will not arise overnight, but so far the five consortium partners have committed themselves to investigating the vision’s potential until mid-2019. This is executed by means of concrete studies of technical, environmental, and market perspectives. “If a wind power hub in the North Sea is to move from vision to reality, whatever its technical and economic potential, it requires massive political support from a large number of participating countries. At the same time, protected areas are of vital importance to our ecosystem, and a close collaboration between the North Sea countries’ stakeholders is therefore needed to maintain the balance between ecological and climate matters, as well as a cost-efficient development of both windfarms and associated infrastructures. The recent presentation at the Clean Energy Ministerial has hopefully helped to promote that,” states Mr Barfoed.