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EU Grid Operators Publish Offshore Network Development Plans

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) has published EU Offshore Network Development Plans (ONDPs), the first comprehensive cross-border review of existing grid capacity and future offshore grid requirements at sea basin level.

The plans could help to accelerate the expansion of offshore wind and facilitate the deployment of innovative grid solutions to integrate offshore wind power into Europe’s energy system. The ONDPs highlight the financial and technical needs for grids to be developed and upgraded to accommodate additional new generation capacity from European offshore territories.

According to WindEurope, the plans give visibility to offshore wind developers, investors, and the grid equipment supply chain on the expected offshore grids for each European sea basin by 2030, 2040, and 2050.

The EU currently has just under 20 GW of offshore wind and by 2050, it wants at least 300 GW, according to the industry organisation.

The ONDPs even see 384 GW of offshore renewables in the EU by 2050 and 496 GW in Europe as a whole.

To ensure the most efficient grid buildout possible, future grid connections should be designed at the sea basin level rather than at the national level.

ENTSO-E presents five different ONDPs – one each for the North Sea: the Atlantic Basin; the West Mediterranean; the East Mediterranean; and the Black Sea.

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Connecting offshore wind generation to the grid is a challenge for all TSOs in Europe, as well as for generators, manufacturers, national governments and all other interested parties. The ONDPs presented today emphasise the need for close coordination and involvement of all European stakeholders. Only by acting together will be able to successfully meet this tremendous challenge,” said Zbyněk Boldiš, President of ENTSO-E.

“There’s a new urgency around grids in Europe. The ONDPs are a significant step forward. They’ll help people decide how best to build out offshore grids – cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope.

“They also inform the evolution of hybrid offshore wind farms, energy islands and other innovative ways of integrating offshore wind power into Europe’s energy system.”

‘Significant’ Potential for Cross-Border Hybrid Offshore Wind Farms

The ONDPs see “significant” potential for hybrid offshore wind farms – that have connections to two or more countries.

Hybrids could become an important part of Europe’s meshed and interconnected offshore grid. According to ONDPs 14 per cent of all offshore renewables could be connected as hybrids.

“The political support for the growth of offshore wind is extremely strong. Not just in the North Sea, but also in the Baltic, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Black and even the Caspian Sea. But the politics around grid access and grid connections, especially hybrid grid connections, are complicated. It’s essential to resolve the cost-sharing issue as soon as possible. Otherwise the EU risks missing out on investments,” said Dickson.


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