Dynamic research programme

North Sea Energy is a dynamic research programme at the heart of which is an integrated approach to the energy system.

The North Sea provides opportunities for the integrated implementation of the future climate-neutral energy system:

  • Well suited for offshore wind because the North Sea is relatively shallow and is (almost) always windy
  • Possibilities for large-scale underground carbon storage
  • The pivotal role in the energy supply of the North Sea countries. Initially with oil and gas production, now increasingly with renewable energy

The North Sea provides opportunities for large-scale wind energy and hydrogen production and underground carbon storage. North Sea Energy looks at the benefits of linking these energy functions. By connecting the infrastructure of wind energy, hydrogen, CO2 and natural gas, we save money and time. In doing so, we make effective use of space and reduce carbon emissions. The North Sea will play a pivotal role in the success of the European energy transition.

The approach

Research projects within the North Sea Energy programme are based on the following points of departure:

  • Offshore wind is undergoing significant expansion
  • Hydrogen will play a key role in the future energy system
  • CCS will be a part of the future energy system
  • Use of existing strategic gas infrastructure

These points of departure form the core of work packages 1 to 6. The focus is on the need for an integrated vision. Work package 7 includes a roadmap to provide insight into the enormous potential of the North Sea.

We look at the issues from different perspectives. Technology, market, society, ecology, spatial planning and regulations are important angles. At the same time, we want to limit the costs for society and the impact on nature. This is reflected in work package 7.

Uptake of energy functions within the programme

Gradually, since 2017, the various energy functions have been included into the programme’s research projects.

  • At first instance we looked at the increasing activities around offshore wind, the possible linkages with existing offshore infrastructure and the connection with other North Sea users (see Energy Atlas).
  • The first studies focused on the added value of platform electrification (platform power supplies coming from wind energy instead of gas) as a first step towards system integration.
  • The results from these studies, supplemented with Carbon Capture Storage (CCS), were tested in a follow-up study at two demonstrative locations (IJmuiden Ver and Hollandse Kust).
  • In 2019, the insights were used to carry out an in-depth study of the technical, economic, ecological and social feasibility. The results were elaborated in scenarios including the production and transport of hydrogen and presented in the report Unlocking potential of the North Sea.
  • The aim is to deliver, by the end of 2022, a roadmap for offshore system integration in the North Sea towards 2050 in which the multidisciplinary results from all phases of the programme are the ingredients. It will include practical timelines to develop system integration projects and assess whether the transition to the new energy system is creating barriers to aligning investment agendas with infrastructure developments, and how to resolve them.
  • The programme selects three offshore locations in the North Sea that will act as energy hubs bringing together the different energy functions so that we can develop more in-depth scenarios in the areas of techno-economics, ecology and environment, logistics, regulation and safety.
  • The development of this roadmap will be a joint effort of the partners within the consortium and outside the project, in which co-creation and sharing of knowledge plays a key role. In line with this, routes of action will be developed to actually deliver concrete system integration projects / pilots and demonstrations as a spin-off of this phase of the programme.