North Sea can host 135 GW wind power capacity

The North Sea could become home to offshore wind energy farms with a combined generating capacity as high as 135 GW by 2030, as per a study conducted as part of an international project chaired by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands.

Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and the UK have coastlines around the North Sea. The study was undertaken by Windspeed, an offshore wind energy consulting firm. 

Dutch-German transmission grid operator TenneT will lay the longest offshore high voltage direct current cable network project yet to connect North Sea wind farms to the German mainland grid. The network will transmit wind power to 1.5 million households.

Using a geographic information system, DLR researchers developed a tool that identifies potentially suitable sites for wind turbines in the North Sea. This involves linking data on average wind strength and water depths with data relating to nature conservation areas, maritime shipping routes, and oil and gas platforms.

The study describes the parameters that need to be established across the European Union in order to achieve optimum expansion of wind farms in the North Sea between now and 2030, while at the same time minimizing the negative consequences associated with this development.

If the countries whose coastlines border the North Sea were to implement their existing National Action Plans on Climate Protection and Expansion of Energy from Renewable Sources, 32 GW of wind farm capacity could be installed by 2020, according to the study. An additional 100 GW of wind power could be added by 2030.

Researchers believe that the potential capacity calculated in this study can only be implemented if favorable conditions are created in all countries with a North Sea coastline. This means that a larger area of the North Sea will have to be made available for wind power development, according to the study.

Other important planning factors needed to provide security for investors include identifying the precise nature of the supply conditions in every country, the price to be paid for power and the regulations governing the delivery of this power to their respective national grids, according to the study.