Green energy produced by UK and Dutch North Sea wind farms could soon be fed into both countries domestic systems as part of efforts to hit net zero carbon goals.
National Grid Ventures, the commercial development arm of National Grid, has teamed up with Dutch transmission system operator TenneT to explore the feasibility of transmitting power generated by offshore turbines using subsea electricity cables.
The development would be the first of its kind for the UK and the Netherlands in the North Sea.
The UK Government recently announced it was aiming for 40 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy by the end of the decade in order to help it hit its legally binding target to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
The Dutch government is targeting 11.5GW by 2030, with a further increase of between 20 and 40 GW in the subsequent 20 years.
Under the terms of the agreement, TenneT and National Grid Ventures will explore the development of a multi-purpose interconnector (MPI) to link up to four GW of British and Dutch offshore wind between the two electricity systems simultaneously.
By connecting into both grids, the MPI will allow electricity to be traded between the two countries, increasing the potential utilisation of North Sea infrastructure.
It’s also hoped by linking up developments directly to the MPI, it will reduce the amount of offshore infrastructure needed, minimising the environmental impact of wind farms on coastal communities.
The two companies aim to have a path-finder project laid out by the end of next year, with a view to delivering an operational asset by 2029.
Jon Butterworth, managing director of National Grid Ventures, said: “The UK’s binding commitment to net zero by 2050 and the European Green Deal have set clear goals for a low-carbon future for generations to come.
“Multi-Purpose Interconnectors have the potential to act as a key enabler for new offshore wind projects and we’re delighted to be partnering once again with TenneT to deliver an innovative vision to help realise the full green energy potential of the North Sea.
Manon van Beek, chief executive of TenneT, said: “TenneT has been at the forefront of developing multi-purpose interconnection to enable the large-scale growth of offshore wind in the North Sea.
“This agreement allows us to work with National Grid in the North Sea to develop innovative infrastructure that uses every spare electron of offshore wind generation to reach our decarbonisation targets.”
Barnaby Wharton, director of future electricity systems at industry body RenewableUK, said: “Innovative projects like this will help us to maximise the use of the massive amount of power we’re generating from offshore wind, which is set to be the dominant technology in our energy system by the end of this decade.
“Building more interconnectors will drive down costs for consumers even further by allowing more clean electricity to flow between countries – it’s another step towards the era of cheap, plentiful power which renewables can provide”.