Dutch offshore tenders encourage innovation

8 March 2023

In December 2022, it was announced that Ecowende, a joint venture of Shell and Eneco, was winner of the permit for the Hollandse Kust (west) Site VI offshore wind farm, following assessment of the applications received by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and an independent expert committee.

Ecowende is required to build the wind farm with “attention to nature.” It is expected to be commissioned in 2026.

The Hollandse Kust (west) wind farm zone – HKWWFZ – is located more than 50 km off the Dutch coast near IJmuiden.

The wind farm, which, like Hollandse Kust (west) Site VII, is being realised without subsidy and is also due to enter operation in 2026, will have an installed capacity of 756 MW and consist of 54 wind turbines.

Also, as with the Hollandse Kust (west) Site VII tender process, Site VI applicants were asked to offer money. Together with the costs of the environmental impact assessments and location studies that are being paid for by Ecowende, this amounts to about €63.5 million in the case of Site VI. According to RVO, this will be used “to ensure wind farms are designed with due care to the environment and other activities in the North Sea,” said RVO.

Dutch minister for Climate and Energy Policy, Rob Jetten, said: “The plan presented by Ecowende shows what we can do to design wind farms that work with nature. They can go well together. And that is necessary because there will need to be many more offshore wind farms to be able to supply sufficient green energy. With 40 innovative experiments and applications in this proposal, we are starting a movement to build offshore wind farms with minimal impact on nature.”

'Ecology' was included as an additional criterion in the assessment of the applications for the Site VI permit. Maintaining a healthy ecosystem and biodiversity in the North Sea is of great importance. The aim is to build an offshore wind farm with a thriving ecosystem and with as little impact as possible on nature and the environment. The design of the winning wind farm is 'nature-inclusive', including among other things:

  • a section where wind turbines are widely spaced so that birds can fly between them safely;
  • use of various piling techniques to measure and minimise the impact on marine habitats;
  • placing of reef structures on the seabed to boost marine biodiversity.

In order to test the effectiveness of these measures in the interim, ”an expert advisory group will be consulted and knowledge will be actively shared so it can be used for future wind farms”, says RVO.

Another Shell–Eneco JV, CrossWind, is constructing Hollandse Kust (north) Site V. KBR has recently been awarded a contract by CrossWind to perform front-end engineering design of the “baseload power hub” planned for the Hollandse Kust (north) wind farm, which will include innovative energy storage systems. KBR and Shell will design and develop facilities that integrate lithium-ion battery storage and green hydrogen electrolysis production at megawatt scale. The design will enable hydrogen production and electricity storage in periods of high-power production and will convert hydrogen to electricity, via a fuel cell, during periods of lower power production.

Previously, in November 2022, Oranje Wind Power II, a subsidiary of RWE, was announced as permit winner for the 700 MW Hollandse Kust (west) Site VII offshore wind farm.

Among novel features of the Site VII tender process set out by RVO were that applicants parties “should include innovative plans in the field of system integration.” In addition to the production of offshore wind energy, the Dutch government “requested parties to come up with new solutions for fully integrating all the electricity generated into the Dutch energy system. This means, among other things, that any surplus electricity generated by the wind farm – such as when there are strong winds – can still be used.” Accordingly Oranje Wind Power II plans for Site VII include 600 MW of onshore electrolysers (producing green hydrogen), 225 MW of e-boilers for district heating and industrial applications, batteries and offshore floating solar energy.

Dutch–Norwegian start-up SolarDuck has been selected as the exclusive provider of offshore floating solar PV, with integrated energy storage, for Site VII as part of RWE´s bid for the offshore wind farm. It will build a 5 MW demonstrator within the wind farm.

The Dutch government’s ambition for offshore wind energy is 21 GW by around 2030, providing about 75% of Dutch electricity needs. Currently, about 2.5 GW of offshore wind generating capacity has been fully commissioned, with a number of wind farms under construction or planned. The Additional Offshore Wind Energy Roadmap 2030 describes how and when designated wind farm zones will be developed. The next zone due to be licensed is IJmuiden Ver (4 GW).

Dutch offshore wind energy roadmap, as of December 2022 (source: RVO)
Offshore floating solar (source: SolarDuck)

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