EC: Cooperation Key to Develop Vast North and Irish Sea OW Potential

The North and Irish Sea hold great offshore wind potential, but its development is being hindered by a lack of collaboration in the region, according to a new study published by the European Commission. 

The best way to tap into this potential is for EU countries bordering these seas to work together, the “Study on regulatory matters concerning the development of the North and Irish Sea offshore energy potential” finds.

Today, offshore grid infrastructure used to bring wind energy from sea to land is largely based on point-to-point interconnections between EU countries. These were developed following bilateral agreements between national governments. “No multilateral infrastructures have been planned and constructed so far,” the study says.

Back in 2010, ten EU countries in the region (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK) signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating their intent to exploit offshore wind energy in the North and Irish Sea to boost security of energy supply and transit towards a low carbon economy.

However, today, the countries have different positions on offshore wind and differing regulations. There is also uncertainty surrounding the distribution of costs and benefits among the market players involved, according to the study.

The best way to bring offshore wind power online is via meshed grid connections that link up the wind farms to the shore and the electricity markets of coastal countries, the study says. Interconnections between these countries would also help integrate electricity markets in the region and iron out price differentials.

The study also indicates that policies affecting all coastal countries concerned would help drive development forward. The EU’s target for at least a 27% share of renewables by 2030 is a step forwards in this direction, it says.

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