Artificial grid island concept in the North Sea approved

Windenergie eiland_zee. Credit TenneT

Renewable energy consultancy, Blix Consultancy, has confirmed that propositions put forward by Dutch power grid operator, TenneT, who wants to build an artificial grid island in the North Sea, are viable.

The artificial island would act as an energy hub, optimising the power generated by the surrounding wind farms, situated in the IJmuiden Ver wind energy area. They have an estimated capacity of 6GW, and will be situated around 100 km offshore in the shallow Dutch coastal waters.

Working on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Blix Consultancy reviewed six different scenarios for this project. Varying from using alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC), the consultancy found that the creation and use of an artificial island will be the most efficient.

The island would decrease the distance between the wind turbines and the shore and maximise the use of cheaper AC connections. DC converter stations would also be operational on the island and minimise the loss of electricity in transmission to the mainland. This would remove the need for costly converter platforms at sea.

While the wind farms in IJmuiden Ver are expected to be in operation from 2027, it is projected that the island won’t be constructed until 2028, taking delays into consideration. This would fall out of line with the Dutch government’s Offshore wind energy roadmap for 2030 to meet the Paris climate agreement.

Mark de La Vieter, researcher at Blix Consultancy, commented on the recent validation report for the construction of the island, “building an innovative island-hub brings a greater uncertainty in the planning phase than building a well-known direct current platform. Therefore, a direct current platform fits within the ambitions of the national government’s need for speed. I predict that in the longer-term, island-hubs will be part of the Dutch electrical infrastructure at sea.”

The artificial island concept was first presented by TenneT in 2016. The provider stated that there is also potential for further cooperation between the Dutch and UK governments for development of a UK wind energy area in East Anglia.