The North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative would knit together the power grids of the countries adjacent to the North Sea, and enable a far greater share of renewables—especially offshore wind—on the northern European grid than would be possible otherwise. It would also make it possible to use Norway’s substantial hydro capacity as a giant battery to balance out the variability of wind and solar on the grid. And in the longer term, it could be a key part of a European “supergrid” that would connect the transmission grids of all of Europe, and potentially even tap the massive solar capacity of the Middle East and northern Africa. These are big, bold ideas, and implementing them won’t be easy or cheap, but the benefits would be enormous… so much so that building these transmission links might be inevitable. But the planning alone has already gone on for at least seven years, and while some of the countries that would connect to the North Seas Offshore Grid are already building parts of their contribution to it, there is still much work to be done…and building the physical infrastructure might be the easy part! In this episode we talk with a Dutch expert who has been directly involved in evaluating and planning for these supergrids to see where they now stand, what their potential costs and benefits are, and what we might expect in the future.

Geek rating: 4

Guest: Kees van der Leun graduated from Utrecht University with an MSc in Physics in 1986. He joined Ecofys as its third employee and was involved in the management of the company ever since. At present, he is Managing Partner at Ecofys leading the development of its strategic consultancy, deploying the full value of the wide range of expertise available in the company. Kees was involved in various projects concerning the North Sea energy system, and he took part in the steering group of the work Ecofys did for TenneT on their stakeholder process for the grid connection of the new generation of offshore wind farms in The Netherlands. At present, he leads a team developing a vision on how to accelerate the integrated approach to the future North Sea energy system.

On Twitter: @Sustainable2050

On the Web: ecofys.com

Recording date: December 16, 2016

Air date: January 11, 2017

Links

Press release: “Ecofys Joins Navigant, Scaling Global Energy and Sustainability Expertise” (Nov 11, 2016)

Anna Ritzen, “Baseline Environmental Assessment for meshed grid in the Irish and North Seas,” Ecofys. (Jul 5, 2016)

Ecofys, “Windless winter weeks: The impact of future heating supply on the energy infrastructure.” (Nov 29, 2016)

Ecofys, Benefits of a Meshed Offshore Grid in the Northern Seas Region. (Oct 22, 2014)

Ecofys, “Managing stakeholder consultation

European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE), The North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative (NSCOGI)

European Commission press release: “North Seas Countries agree on closer energy cooperation.” (Jun 6, 2016)

A Toolbox for Regional Energy Cooperation – Regional Steps Toward an Energy Union, Benelux Union. (Oct 2016)

Agnes Wrodarczyk, “Wind Power and the Super Grid,” Central European Staffing. (Oct 27, 2016)

Final Report, NorthSeaGrid – Offshore Electricity Grid Implementation in the North Sea (Mar 2015)

Friends of the Supergrid

The Electricity Highways: Preparing the Electricity Grid of the Future – What is the e-Highway 2050 project?” European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE)

Rick Bosman, “Energy transition in the Netherlands,” Renewables International. (Apr 2013)

David Foxwell, “Shell consortium wins tender for Borssele 3 and 4,” Offshore Wind Journal. (Dec 13, 2016)

Batteries charged to play bigger role in UK energy grid,” BBC. (Dec 9, 2016)

Debapriya Mondal, “Power ministry projects fund requirement of Rs 10 lakh crore over five years through 2022,” ETEnergyWorld. (Dec 12, 2016)

Christopher Cadelago, “Jerry Brown strikes defiant tone: ‘California will launch its own damn satellite’,” Sacramento Bee. (Dec 14, 2016)

Matthew Dalton, Inti Landauro, and Rebecca Smith, “Coverup at French Nuclear Supplier Sparks Global Review,” Wall Street Journal. (Dec 13, 2016)

Climatescope 2016 by Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Tom Randall, “World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind,” Bloomberg. (Dec 14, 2016)

 

Teaser photo image: By Miss.hyper at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5333052