EU told to accelerate North Sea cross-border offshore wind development

Dutch-German grid operator, TenneT, has called for the acceleration of North Sea cross-border offshore wind in order to secure European energy independence.

CEO Manon van Beek spoke at the North Sea Wind Summit in Esbjerg, Denmark, where Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented the REPowerEU package to Heads of State from the four North Sea countries; Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

To reach the new very ambitious climate targets, we need even more cross-border cooperation in Europe’s energy markets. We must use this opportunity today to boost our collaboration, as a group of like-minded partners. Together we can make the North Sea the powerhouse of Europe’s affordable, secure, and green energy future. To succeed, we must take a fully international approach to the energy transition, working together with all the North Sea countries,” said van Beek.

According to TenneT, renewable energies, particularly offshore wind power, show their value at this urgent time of need and improve the supply of affordable electricity for European households. The crisis has shown the importance of accelerating the roll-out of offshore wind power in the North Sea for energy security and market stability, and the REPowerEU package sets important steps to shortening and simplifying permitting processes for its deployment. Grid infrastructure projects should benefit from the same acceleration rules as renewable energy projects.

To achieve this acceleration, the important elements of the political framework must fit together seamlessly: incentives for renewable generation, market design, security of supply, the building of infrastructure, and the strategy for hydrogen. It is crucial, therefore, to implement a joint strategy, as all parts of the system influence one another.

“This conference led by Heads of State shows that developing the North Sea is ‘Chefsache’  and it is about proving trust – trust in a comprehensive collaboration, trust to overcome thinking in boxes – whether they are geographic or different energy carriers, whether it is sellers or buyers,” van Beek said.

“Europe can maintain its leading role in offshore technology – one of the cheapest sources of electricity – if we ensure three things now.

“First, we must set a reliable growth path. National governments and the EU have it in their hand to counter the current energy crisis by creating a reliable growth path by harvesting offshore wind in the most efficient place in Europe., This needs three commitments offshore: cross-border coordination on locations for new wind parks, roll-out schedules, and reliable tendering schemes so everybody is empowered to invest in time.

“Second, we need to speed up cross-border cooperation. The future is an interconnected offshore system that also enables the exchange of electricity between countries and the security of supply for all. Such cross-border projects need to be a convincing investment case for everybody, also for offshore wind parks. Technically everything is possible, but we also need the right incentives at the EU and national levels.

“Finally, we need to strive towards technical interoperability. High Voltage Direct Current technology is so new that the components of different suppliers do not work together properly. Today, it is not possible to connect converter stations supplied by different manufacturers. Together with other companies in the industry, TenneT developed a vendor-neutral standard for the next HVDC technology generation. We have urgently asked the EU Commission to support this.”

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