“We very much welcome this week’s communication of the European Commission which outlines the strategy for offshore energy”, comments TenneT-CEO Manon van Beek. “Time is running. The target to decarbonize the European economy until 2050 makes it inevitable that we start as soon as possible. To reach the Commission’s Goal of 300 gigawatts (GW) offshore wind power until 2050 we have no time to lose.” The Commission rightly points out that the speed of building offshore wind farms has to increase significantly to reach the long term goals.
Manon van Beek: “One of the big challenges will be to enable cross-border offshore projects. Currently most offshore wind parks are connected to one country only and cables are only used when the wind is blowing. Tennet was one of the co-developers of the concept of combined offshore energy systems or hybrid projects: The idea is to use subsea cables for transporting wind power from offshore parks when the wind is blowing and to use the same cables for electricity trading between countries when the wind is not blowing. Such hybrid projects would connect wind farms to different countries and at the same time set up a direct electrical connection between these countries at lower costs. With its partners, TenneT is working towards a first internationally connected offshore wind power hub in the North Sea. "We are planning to build a first cross-border twelve GW hub by 2035 to connect two GW to Denmark, four GW to The Netherlands and six GW to Germany, an effort recently financially supported by the EC through its Connecting Europe Facility.”
Together with National Grid Ventures and Vattenvall, TenneT is also exploring opportunities for an interconnection from the Dutch offshore wind area IJmuiden Ver towards the UK, which is planned to be operational before 2030. To have some international hybrid renewable offshore projects ready in the early 2030s it is absolutely necessary to start now. “We would lose valuable time if we waited for answers on some of these regulatory questions instead of conducting a common process to find the needed answers.” The fundamental issue will be how to integrate 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050.
Today TenneT is operating more than half of the wind offshore connections in the EU. By 2030, TenneT will invest around 20 billion euros to connect offshore wind energy in the Netherlands and Germany. TenneT's offshore grid connection capacity will increase to around 17 gigawatts in Germany and 9.6 gigawatts in the Netherlands by 2030. This offshore expansion leads to massive efforts in onshore grid expansion: TenneT alone spent 14 billion Euro in Germany in the last decade and still has a very large investment agenda for the next years to transport the offshore energy on the mainland, among which two DC lines in planning (SuedLink and SuedOstLink) plus another DC line that is already in preparation (B corridor). “TenneT is in a financially healthy position to finance everything it needs to drive the energy transition,” Manon van Beek points out, “and our investment portfolio is 40 to 50 billion Euro in the next decade.”
“Key challenge is that with the number of involved member states the regulatory complexity increases rapidly,” Manon van Beek explains and calls on to Member States to jointly provide a reliable investment framework for wind park investors. It is crucial to provide a framework that addresses the roles and responsibilities of member states, the market setup, the allocation of rights and duties of the common infrastructure and finding the best locations for new offshore projects. Moreover, the successful integration of such high amounts of offshore wind cannot take place without considering the development of (industrial) electricity demand. Many sectors of the economy can and will shift from fossil fuels to using electricity for heat, transport or industrial purposes. Only if these developments are coupled, the electricity generated offshore can be integrated successfully to help decarbonize Europe's economy."
TenneT is a leading European grid operator (Transmission System Operator (TSO). We design, build, maintain and operate the high-voltage electricity grid in the Netherlands and large parts of Germany and facilitate the European energy market. We are committed to providing a secure and reliable supply of electricity, today and in the future, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and to playing our role in driving the energy transition. We transport electricity over a network of approximately 23,500 kilometres of high-voltage connections, from wherever and however it's generated, to over 42 million end-users while keeping electricity supply and demand balanced at all times. With close to 5,000 employees, we achieve a turnover of 4.1 billion euros and a total asset value of EUR 23 billion. TenneT is one of the largest investors in national and international onshore and offshore electricity grids. TenneT makes every effort to meet the needs of society. This will require us all to take ownership, show courage and connect with each other.
The energy sector is developing rapidly. The process of European market integration began some years ago. Its purpose is to create a single European market that enables market parties to trade gas and electricity across national borders easily and efficiently.