Sian Crampsie

Dutch/German TSO TenneT believes that development of energy infrastructure in the North Sea should follow a "hub and spoke" design in order to reduce costs and make Europe’s energy transition feasible.

The network operator has proposed an innovative and ambitious vision for the future of offshore wind in the North Sea, with offshore wind farms connected to international electricity highways (spokes) interconnected by a central island (hub).

The spokes would transmit electricity from wind farms via direct current (DC) cables to countries around the North Sea, including the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, Norway, Germany and Denmark, said TenneT.

The same DC cables would also serve as interconnections between these markets to further integrate Europe’s power system. TenneT added that the island would allow for shorter connections between projects and, therefore, the use of alternating current (AC) cabling.

TenneT has proposed the Dogger Bank as a potential location for a 6 km2 island hub.

TenneT says that the new concept would help to deal with the challenges of developing wind farms in progressively deeper waters and says that its plan is "realistic and achievable". It has highlighted the need for strong cooperation among North Sea countries.

"It will be very important for the six European North Sea countries to be willing, in due course, to make their targets independent of national borders, which means agreeing that the electrons generated offshore must not necessarily be transmitted to their own country," said TenneT CEO Mel Kroon.

TenneT says that it will start talks with the EU and Member States to discuss plans for its concept as well as factors such as regulation, targets and financing. It believes that an island hub could be built between 2030 and 2050 alongside a link between the Dutch Ijmuiden Ver zone and the UK’s East Anglia zone.