Maasvlakte will be gaining a cable link with North Sea wind farm in 2021. This will transmit enough clean electricity for 1.6 million households to shore. Thanks to new technologies, surplus electricity can soon also be utilised sustainably.
Over the next few years, the Netherlands’ coastal region will be undergoing a transformation. The period until 2023 will bring the phased construction of a number of new wind farms near Borssele and the coastlines of Zuid-Holland and Noord-Holland. In the near future, these offshore turbines will generate enough electricity to power some 5 million Dutch households. The wind farms will be hooked up to the national grid via cables along the sea bed. “And four of these cables will soon be coming ashore at Maasvlakte,” says Nathalie Kaarls of transmission system operator TenneT.
These four cables are intended for the wind power area ‘Hollandse Kust (zuid)’, a future offshore wind farm that will be situated over 18.5 kilometres off the Dutch coast, running roughly from Zandvoort to The Hague. Once work on the farm is rounded off – probably in 2022 – the array will have a generating capacity of 1,400 megawatts – enough to supply some 1.6 million households with electric power. A number of route options were examined for the cables that will be transmitting power to shore. Factors that were taken into consideration included costs, technical aspects and impact on the environment and the surrounding area. Ultimately, the Minister of Economic Affairs decided to connect the cables to the grid at Maasvlakte – even though this is not the shortest route. “One of the key advantages of this route compared to shorter options is that it hardly crosses any protected nature areas,” explains Nathalie.
But there was another important consideration: the municipal administration and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are happy to help realise the connection. Both parties aim to contribute to the transition from fossil to sustainable sources of energy. “A huge amount of energy is consumed in the port area, so we thought: if you have to go ashore with these cables somewhere, it might as well be here in the port, where we can immediately put the clean electricity to use,” says Michel Bresser of the Port Authority, who bears responsibility for the cables’ integration in the port area.
Ideal testing ground
One problem with wind power is that supply and demand aren’t always effectively aligned. Sometimes, there are heavy winds, but the demand for electricity is limited, and vice versa. This also has an impact on the price. That is why parties are working hard on the development of new methods to store surplus – i.e. inexpensive – power for later use. In the form of heat, hydrogen or chemicals, for example. Michel: “The port is an ideal testing ground for technologies like these. We have a large energy and chemical cluster and room to expand. In addition, it is a case of simple necessity: we have to make the transition from fossil to sustainable energy. In that sense, you could say these power cables are only the beginning.”