TenneT Proposes Artificial Island For Up To 70 GW Of Offshore Wind

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It has been a great week for clean energy in Europe. First, the energy ministers of nine North Sea countries met at an Energy Council in Luxembourg to discuss cooperation on offshore wind power. The nine countries: Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, France, Denmark, Ireland, and Belgium signed a Memorandum of Understanding which aims to help lower the costs of offshore wind, and increase the deployment of wind turbines in the North Sea.

Later that day, 11 power companies — including giants Vattenfall, Statoil, and RWE — declared that offshore wind costs can be driven down to about €80 per MWh by 2025.

And last Friday, a third bold announcement was added, made by TenneT, a Dutch, state-owned power grid operator.

TenneT declared that it has plans for an island energy hub in the North Sea, which would be part of a larger project to vastly expand Europe’s renewable power generating capacity and should help in keeping the costs low.

The exact size of the whole project has not yet been defined, but the fact that it will be absolutely enormous is clear. TenneT CEO Mel Kroon mentions in an interview with Dutch news radio station BNR that the wind farm will have a capacity of between 30 GW and 70 GW and will generate enough electricity for at least 10 million people.

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The vast scale of the wind farm makes the idea of creating an island a viable option. The bare island itself will already cost an approximate €1.5 billion. That excludes the construction costs of facilities that include a runway, a harbor, housing for the 2,000 workers who will be stationed there, and even a park. But as the island provides the wind park operator with a much more efficient way to build and maintain the park, the investment will quickly pay itself off.

The island will be especially profitable because it also serves as an interconnector to distribute the power among the different surrounding countries. Wind turbines generate alternating current, which has to be transformed into direct current to minimize energy loss during transport. By executing the transformation into direct current onshore, or on an island, the process is at least 10% cheaper than when done offshore, TenneT’s CEO explains.

In addition, the new power lines will obviously also enhance the connection between the different energy markets of the participating countries, which should result in a better match between supply and demand and, therefore, lower energy prices overall.

The island will be located in the shallow waters of the Dogger Bank, roughly 100 km off the east coast of England, where the North Sea has a depth of only 10 to 20 meters. This makes this location ideal for both the reclamation of the island and the construction of the possibly 7,000 (give or take a few) 200-meter-tall wind turbines.

The following animation gives a realistic bird’s-eye view on the island.

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