Energy transition

North Sea Wind Power Hub Consortium presents achievable solution to meet climate goals

09 July 2019
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Today, the international consortium partners of the North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) presented the results of the project's assessment phase. Over the past months, the consortium has been analysing the possibility and conditions required to build one or several wind power hubs in the North Sea.

The consortium has conducted a wide range of studies, investigated a number of different scenarios and conducted intense engagements with policy makers, leading offshore wind farm developers and Non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Consortium North Sea Wind Power Hub

The consortium's aim is to facilitate the large scale roll-out and integration of far North Sea offshore wind against least cost to society while maintaining security of supply, as part of the energy transition to a low-carbon energy system. The vision is based on an internationally coordinated rollout of Hub-and-Spoke projects, combining wind power connection, coupling of energy markets through interconnection and smart integration in the onshore energy grid, including power to gas. This approach has major advantages both economically and in terms of environmental policy.

The consortium's investigations serve answers to meet Paris Agreement climate goals on time and respond to current energy and climate agreements e.g. in The Netherlands and Denmark as well as to German fade out of nuclear power and coal exit.

Summary of key findings

• The proposed Hub-and-Spoke concept is technically feasible
• A gradual roll-out of 10 to 15 gigawatts hubs is the next logical step towards a large offshore wind build-out
• A first Hub-and-Spoke project will likely be electrically connected to shore and with additional power-to-gas to provide energy system flexibility and could be operational in the 2030s
• While it is likely possible to build a first Hub and Spoke project within the current regulatory framework and market design, i.e. current EU and national legislation, significant changes are required in national practices, approaches, planning and policies in order to allow for integrated infrastructure projects such as the modular hub concept being part of the long term energy transition
• According to all international studies and scenarios the large scale roll-out rate of offshore wind is crucial to meet “Paris targets”. Acceleration is needed.
• As the North Sea is hosting a large potential for offshore wind power, the implementation of 180 gigawatts offshore wind can be achieved by 2045 by the consortium’s approach
• An international coordinated approach could connect and integrate large scale offshore wind more effectively and with significant lower costs compared to a continued individual national planning
• Long term market security is needed for all stakeholders to invest and build-up the required supply chains
• Urgent agreements on developing sustainable energy from offshore wind after 2030 are needed
• Consortium has started and facilitates discussion with governments, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), policy makers and industry: Close cooperation and support is needed by setting up consultation processes and international agreements
• Balanced decision making is required by policy makers and spatial planners to weigh the environmental impact of offshore wind farm developments against its techno economic impact, and the urgency to meet the long-term climate goals
• Using power-to-gas conversion and transmission in combination with coupling with other sectors will bring benefits to the overall energy system

International consortium / Background

The North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH) consortium supports the goals of the Paris Agreement and the associated greenhouse gas reduction commitments by the EU and the countries around the North Sea. The international consortium consisting of TenneT, Energinet, Gasunie and Port of Rotterdam is evaluating and developing technical concepts and solutions for supplying the large capacities required to generate energy from renewable sources while simultaneously realising the same at the lowest possible environmental impact and cost.

In the future (after 2030), once large, far-offshore wind regions have been defined for development, it will be possible to develop several hubs that will act as central platforms for supporting the infrastructure required to transport the energy, e.g. for converting electricity into gas (including and in particular green hydrogen) instead of using the offshore converter platforms commonly used at the moment.

The relevant wind power capacities in question range from 70 to 150 gigawatts by the year 2040 and up to 180 gigawatts by 2045 in the North Sea and are intended to be developed using a modular, gradual approach. Depending on the scope of the development, the NSWPH could lay the foundation for supplying hundreds of millions of Europeans with green energy.