National Grid Ventures, the commercial development arm of National Grid plc, and Dutch TSO TenneT announced on 22 September a co-operation agreement to explore the feasibility of connecting Dutch and British wind farms to the energy systems of both countries via subsea electricity interconnectors. The development would be the first of its kind for the UK and the Netherlands in the North Sea.
The UK and the Netherlands have both established ambitious targets to expand offshore wind capacity in the North Sea, with the UK government recently announcing it was targeting 40 GW by 2030, whilst the Dutch have targeted 11.5 GW by 2030 and another increase of 20-40 GW by 2050. Delivering such large-scale offshore wind growth efficiently will require significant amounts of new infrastructure and close co-operation between countries in the North Sea.
The announcement follows a recent decision by the Dutch government to future-proof the first far shore HVDC 2GW offshore transmission grids in the Netherlands for the IJmuiden Ver Wind Farm Zone, approximately 80 km off the North-West coast.
Under the terms of the co-operation agreement, TenneT and National Grid will explore the development of a multi-purpose interconnector to simultaneously connect up to 4 GW of British and Dutch offshore wind to the British and Dutch electricity systems, providing an additional 2 GW of interconnection capacity between the countries.
By connecting into both systems, the MPI will enable spare transmission capacity to be used to trade electricity between the countries. Reducing the amount of infrastructure needed will also mitigate the environmental impact on coastal communities, compared to the current approach in which interconnectors and wind farms are developed and connected separately.
The two companies aim to have a path-finder project defined by the end of 2021 with a view to delivering an operational asset by 2029.
Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT, commented: “This agreement allows us to work with National Grid in the North Sea to develop innovative infrastructure that uses every spare electron of offshore wind generation to reach our decarbonisation targets.” Jon Butterworth, md of National Grid Ventures, said: “The UK’s binding commitment to net zero by 2050 and the European Green Deal have set clear goals for a low-carbon future for generations to come. Multi-Purpose Interconnectors have the potential to act as a key enabler for new offshore wind projects.”