Chris Westra: 2017 – Stormy Weather!

By Chris Westra, Chris Westra Consulting:

By Chris Westra, Chris Westra Consulting:

Offshore wind development is doing well in the Netherlands. Coastal waters surrounding the country will see 3.450MW installed up to 2023 as defined in the Energy Agreement. Now is the time to ask: what will happen next?

The vision up to 2050 has been defined in the Energy Agenda and this is being processed to a roadmap for the development of wind energy from 2023 to 2030 and beyond. Development areas IJmuiden ver and the sector above the Wadden Islands have the potential to one GW of energy per year. The Dutch government will decide on these areas and will conduct the necessary preliminary researches for which TenneT will remain responsible for the connection from sea to shore.

Due to industrialisation and the development of everlarger wind farms the LCOE has decreased to 5,45 – 7,27 eurocents per kilowatt hour. If this continues, perhaps after 2023 subsidies will be a thing of the past. This will make it easier to create interconnections between wind farms. The cooperation within the North Sea agreement which was signed on 6 June 2016 will allow for quicker implementation of this development. This means further cost efficiency, economic growth and more jobs. It is imperative that the cost of offshore wind is further reduced and that the social costs of the energy transition will be limited in regards to environmental development, fishery, energy storage and aquaculture.

The oil and gas industry is keeping an eye on these developments as it is currently facing a challenging climate. Decommissioning within oil and gas is a hot topic and in some cases re-use for offshore wind or other industries is an option. In November, the ‘Masterplan Decommissioning and Re-use’ was presented, showing how a safe, efficient and effective offshore infrastructure of Dutch offshore oil and gas can be dismantled. Oil companies have also sought contact with the offshore wind industry and is keen to use her knowledge, ability and infrastructures. This could be tricky. We need to get rid of fossil fuels as soon as we can and wind energy has proven that she is capable of delivering 100 per cent clean energy at a reasonable price. A lot of money was made within oil and gas and offshore wind has made huge strides with less money. Oil and gas has learned from the ‘wind boys’ that simple monopiles can suffice in place of expensive jacket foundations as well as using vessels with safe access techniques, such as the Ampelmann, instead of helicopters.

The Netherlands Oil and Gas Exploration and Production (NOGEPA) and the Netherlands Wind Energy Association (NWEA) signed a cooperation agreement on 15 June 2016 to which TNO, TenneT also signed their name. The intention is to research how durable, safe, reliable and affordable energy systems can be realised on the North Sea and also how the maritime eco systems can be strengthened. The companies see the North Sea as the future sustainable energy garden of the Netherlands but the oil and gas industries have other interests. Fossil fuels and renewable energy. Two religions between which the devil lies. Offshore wind, watch your back!

This is a guest column from the February 2017 edition of the Offshore WIND Magazine.

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