As such, it is a compelling milestone in the development of a secure, interconnected European power system, able to integrate increasing amounts of renewable energy.
The need for cleaner and safer energy supplies to counter climate change is clear. Renewable power is key to achieving Europe’s 20-20-20 targets and to cope with energy related challenges far beyond 2020. Offshore wind, in particular, has tremendous potential. It could generate more than 500 TWh per year by 2030, enough electricity to meet 15% of Europe’s yearly electricity consumption.
However, reaching these goals and moving towards an efficient, integrated European electricity market will not be possible without a reliable, modernised and efficient grid, both onshore and offshore. Onshore, this means significant investments to strengthen current infrastructure, which faces strong public opposition and lengthy project lead times. Offshore, the challenge is to more efficiently connect power harvested at sea with the onshore transmission system, while at the same time building a system which can actively contribute to stability and security of supply by enabling further integration of the European power market. A coherent European long-term vision for both the onshore and offshore electricity grid is a prerequisite to make the required steps in an optimal way.
The OffshoreGrid project results are a practical blueprint for policymakers, developers and transmission grid operators, to plan and design a meshed offshore grid. They provide explicit guidance for individual projects while not losing sight of the overall grid design. The analysis of costs and benefits of different configurations addressed in this study will help policy makers and regulators anticipate developments and provide incentives that trigger the necessary investments at the right time and avoid stranded investments.
Taking the OffshoreGrid results as basis for discussion, a concrete roadmap for a grid at sea can be developed involving all stakeholders. With today’s fast developments in the offshore wind industry, now is our opportunity.