A North Sea “grid” (NSG) could help deliver more than 15% of Europe’s total electricity demand by 2030.
That’s according to new research, which investigated what that would bring to the region in terms of the sustainable development of energy, economies and marine life.
It suggests the key benefit of a North Sea energy system is its direct impact on supplying Europe with CO2-neutral electricity.
That would rise up to 6.9% with efficient 2030 target implementation and market conditions and up to 10.1% with “favourable” economic conditions and industry efforts.
This would mean 15% of regional demand being covered by offshore resources, the report states.
It adds, together with onshore renewables like wind, solar and biofuels as well as progress in energy efficiency, this would present a strong boost in meeting the region’s 2030 renewable targets.
The firms’ analysis reveals investment finance needs for proposed NSG transmission projects during the same period add up to around €30 billion (£25.6bn), excluding wind farms.
Roughly half of the projects are already in advanced stages and scheduled for commissioning by 2022.
The report states the potential of a NSG “has been a dream on the horizon for several decades” and believes the right conditions now exist to trigger further process.
That includes levelised costs of offshore wind that have dropped “well below €0.10/kWh”, regional ambitions that have strong political support and industry that understands the need to align business models with a roadmap that keeps global temperature rise to well below 2°C.
The report adds: “Offshore energy supports the energy transition in all countries around the North Sea and by extension Europe. Connecting grid assets in the North Sea would bring the greatest benefit to the entire region when they are planned, constructed and operated in a co-ordinated manner.
“An optimal target grid including direct wind farm connections to shore as well as hybrid or meshed links between multiple countries and wind farms would bring substantial societal benefits. Such hybrid or meshed configurations could strongly enhance market interconnections in North-western Europe and at the same time allow offshore energy potential to feed into the connected markets.”