Offshore electricity grid needs a coordinated approach

An offshore North and Baltic Sea electricity grid could be in place within 10-15 years, but its development is being slowed by political and regulatory differences between countries bordering the North and Baltic Seas, according to a report published by the OffshoreGrid consortium.

The European Commission-funded consortium – made up of eight organizations* – stated that offshore wind farm developers, operators and traders see a harmonization of electricity market and electricity transmission rules across Europe as essential for the future offshore grid.National and EU policy makers, being more cautious, would rather opt for making the existing support schemes compatible.

“The problem is that regulatory frameworks for interconnectors and offshore transmission are very different between Member States,” Achim Woyte, Project Coordinator for OffshoreGrid, said.

Legal uncertainty and the risk of stranded investments are also hindering the development of an offshore grid. In most of the countries the regulatory framework does not clarify what support an offshore wind farm could be eligible for, if the farm is connected to several different countries.

Two factors – the EU’s 2020 renewable energy 20% target and the urgent need for improving the security of Europe’s electricity supply – are driving the development of an offshore grid, the report notes.

OffshoreGrid published three other reports: A list of planned and possible wind farm locations with predictions for their installed capacity by 2020 and 2030; a report on potential wind power output at offshore sites over one year; and a report on other marine orientated grid development scenarios up to 2030.

These reports are available at They will be presented at the annual European Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition (EWEC) in Warsaw, April 20-23, and at a stakeholder workshop which is set to take place in Scotland, June 2010.

*3E, German Energy Agency, Institute for Renewable Energy / EC BREC IEO, Senergy Econnect, SINTEF, Energy Research, National Technical University of Athens, European Wind Energy Association, Forwind – Center for Wind Energy Research – University of Oldenburg.

Wind turbines have become the iconic symbol of a rising tide of environmental awareness over recent decades. Tall towers of grey steel topped by three slender blades dot not just the countryside and increasingly the sea, but they also appear on a whole range of literature from information leaflets on local environmental movements to the billboards of energy giants displaying the fact that they have adopted environmentally friendly wind power.