The North Sea Energy Program
The international society faces the important challenge to implement the Paris Agreement to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature increase. A transition to a new energy system is needed, i.e. shifting towards renewable energy sources, and making more efficient and responsible use of energy. In this spirit, the Dutch ‘’Energieakkoord’’ prescribes 14% of renewable energy by 2020, with a further increase towards 16% in 2023. Offshore sustainable energy, most dominantly offshore wind, will have an important contribution to the accelerated growth of the sustainable energy supply of the Netherlands.
The North Sea is an important area where this energy transition takes place. The Netherlands is currently experiencing a strong ramp-up of offshore wind energy construction activities in the North Sea. Next to wind energy the North Sea hosts several important (economic) activities, including oil and gas production, fisheries, sand and shell extraction, shipping, areas for military use, nature reserves, and recreational activities. The area thus has an important economic and environmental function for the Netherlands’ economy. The energy transition can be accelerated by making use of synergies between different functions , e.g. between offshore fossil and renewable energy activities, and competition of use and negative trade-offs should be minimized. Synergies may especially apply in the energy domain, for instance if different sectors like the offshore wind energy sector and offshore oil and gas sector combine their infrastructure(s), services, human capital, products and knowledge.
The next steps encompass the further development of the Innovation Program North Sea Energy and creating a community of participating companies and research organizations. Based on different stakeholder workshops we have identified the most relevant short-term research topics that will be addressed in the Innovation Project. The ambition is to realize a national innovation platform which brings together the current initiatives on system integration in the North Sea.
This Innovation Project has clear goals focussing on gathering and developing specific knowledge on offshore system integration:
The final and foremost goal of the project is:
The North Sea is an important area where energy transition takes place. The Netherlands is currently experiencing a strong ramp-up of offshore wind energy construction activities in the North Sea. The energy transition can be accelerated by making use of synergies between different functions. Synergies may especially apply in the energy domain, for instance if different sectors like the offshore wind energy sector and offshore oil and gas sector combine their infrastructure(s), services, human capital, products and knowledge.
Development of a number of offshore wind farm areas in Hollandse Kust (e.g. Helm, West and Rijn) and for the first very large and far offshore development zone, IJmuiden Ver, is ongoing. Due to their sizes and locations these windfarm areas might be very suitable for offshore system integration as these areas are also close to activities related to oil and gas production and transport. Specifically, there is a need to work in high pace towards concrete business cases and demonstrations/pilots for system integration.
In this project we will provide a short list and evaluation of demonstration concepts and locations for a hybrid and integrated energy supply from offshore wind farms and gas/oil production infrastructure near the to-be developed areas of IJmuiden Ver and Hollandse Kust (e.g. West, Rijn and Helm area) which are economically viable and facilitate accelerated integration of large-scale renewables.
The wind farm development areas IJmuiden Ver and Hollandse Kust (HK) - with a foreseen focus on HK areas HK West, HK Rijn and HK Helm - will serve as case study areas to examine the technical, economic, environmental and regulatory challenges of demonstrating offshore system integration concepts in detail and provide offshore stakeholders with guidelines relating to these challenges to ease demonstration and implementation of system integration options within 5 years.
The background for the set of North Sea Energy projects was described in the North Sea Energy 1 project. After the North Sea Energy 1 and 2 projects, several questions remain open regarding scenarios for other system integration options. This includes the development of scenarios for the role of hydrogen in the offshore, as is underpinned in various initiatives including the Hydrogen Roadmap and the Hydrogen Coalition. Thereby, we see an important role for combining the different business cases/techno-economical scenarios to make clearer statement on the role of various types of energy carriers at the North Sea in the upcoming years.
The urgency of this research project remains high as: currently the blueprints for offshore infrastructure deployment are being made for future windfarms and offshore infrastructures such as ‘Energy Islands’; re-use and decommissioning of current oil and gas production activities in the North Sea offshore has gained additional attention through the Nexstep platform; emission regulation is tightening which requires new investments in clean offshore power supply, and the long-term spatial agenda for the North Sea towards 2050 is being sketched; and enhanced international cooperation on energy in Northwest Europe. This provides a window of opportunity right now.
The goals for North Sea Energy 3 are:
- To integrate roadmaps and techno-economic analyses for the separate system integration options to come to an integrated approach for energy system modelling with the aim to address the role and potential for infrastructure re-use at the North Sea towards 2050;
- To analyze the way the general public perceives offshore system integration and come up with engagement strategies;
- To provide insight in the role of hydrogen in the offshore energy system; address the regulatory & policy barriers for deployment of such a hydrogen network; and assess environmental, safety and structural integrity effects of such a hydrogen network.
- To provide insight in how a strategic offshore grid and potential energy islands could look like and how they serve the new, sustainable energy system.