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Dutch gas grid operator joins North Sea Wind Power Hub consortium

Gasunie joins the North Sea Wind Power Hub consortium which includes the Netherlands’ TenneT, Denmark’s Energinet and Germany’s TenneT.
Published: Thu 14 Sep 2017

The four companies will study and investigate the potential development of a large-scale, sustainable European energy supply system in the North Sea.

Gasunie will make a contribution in an area that is expected to be an important part of the North Sea Wind Power Hub -- converting power into hydrogen. This will allow the electricity generated by the wind farms to be stored in the form of gas and then sent to the shore through the existing offshore gas infrastructure.

Paris climate agreement

The collaboration represents a critical step towards the realisation of a North Sea Wind Power Hub from 2030-2050 which is expected to make a large contribute towards achieving the Paris climate agreement.

Around 230GW of offshore wind capacity is currently required to meet the climate targets for Europe alone, with 180GW of it in the North Sea.

The level of offshore wind energy needed for the energy transition is so large that gas-based transmission and storage solutions shall be deployed in addition to electricity connections. The costs of energy transmission and long-term storage in gas form are considerably lower per unit of energy than if the energy is transmitted and stored in the form of electricity. 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, according to a Gasunie statement.

Power Link Islands in the North Sea

By developing the North Sea Wind Power Hub – which will be able to support offshore wind farms with a total capacity of 100 GW – the consortium wants to make the European objectives feasible as well as cost-effective. The group aims to supply a substantial portion of Europe’s future sustainable power.

The basic idea of the plan calls for the construction of one or more so-called ‘Power Link Islands’ in the central North Sea (possibly the Dogger Bank), with interconnections to the countries bordering the North Sea. These artificial islands will be situated at a location that offers ideal wind conditions, i.e. frequent high wind speeds. It will be possible to connect a large number of offshore wind farms to a Power Link Island.

The location facilitates the distribution and transmission of windgenerated electricity via direct-current connections to the North Sea countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, and Denmark). The electricity transmission cables (‘Wind Connectors’) will not only transmit wind energy to the connected countries, but will, at the same time, serve as interconnectors between the energy markets of these European countries, enabling them to trade electricity across their borders.

In addition, the power can be converted to hydrogen for large scale transport to shore, storage or buffering purposes.

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