The operator of the Netherlands' electric grid TenneT, has developed a vision for building a large European electricity system in the North Sea, based on a 'hub and spoke' principle. The TenneT vision seeks to make CO2 reduction targets feasible and affordable. Central to the vision is the building of an island in the middle of the North Sea to which numerous wind farms can be connected and from where the generated wind electricity will be distributed and transmitted over direct current cables to the North Sea countries, i.e. the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Norway, Germany and Denmark; with the same direct current cables serving as interconnections between the energy markets of the aforementioned countries, so besides distributing electricity generated by wind they will also be international electricity highways for international power trade: the Wind-connector.
The island will be built in a location with relatively high and stable wind speed. TenneT's thinking is based on an island with a modular structure, with each module covering approximately 6 km². This is big enough to provide space for connecting roughly 30 GW of offshore wind capacity. The island will be expandable by adding one or two modules of 6 km² each.
Because it needs additional equipment and more expensive maintenance, offshore wind power is costlier than onshore wind power. The space offered by offshore isn't limitless—many of the best offshore sites are fast filling up, Rob van der Hage, TenneT's program manager, told The Guardian. "The big challenge we are facing towards 2030 and 2050 is onshore wind is hampered by local opposition and nearshore is nearly full," van der Hage says."It's logical we are looking at areas further offshore."
Source and top image: TenneT
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