Some utilities are starting to think about a new role for artificial islands in future energy scenarios to connect giant wind farms to several countries
The role of islands as part of future sustainable energy systems may take on new significance based on plans being studied by northern European grid operators. Their idea is to create artificial islands in the North Sea to use as “hubs” connecting offshore wind farms to several countries, thus facilitating the integration of renewables into international markets.
The idea took another small step towards becoming reality after Dutch, German and Danish grid operators signed an agreement to study the feasibility of “power link islands” to serve as a large connection point for thousands of offshore wind turbines that could be built over coming years. They imagine connecting capacity of 70,000 MW to 100,000 MW by 2035.
“Building one or more artificial islands in the middle of the North Sea sounds like a science fiction project,” said Torben Glar Nielsen, CTO of Denmark’s Energinet. “But it could actually be a very efficient and affordable way for the North Sea countries to meet the future demand for more renewable electricity.”
According to the partners, a North Sea Wind power hub at a location like Dogger Bank would have advantages:
- Shallow waters and optimal wind conditions
- Creation of near-shore connections and reduced costs for offshore locations
- Transmission of wind energy via direct-current connections to all countries bordering the North Sea, with transmission cables simultaneously functioning as interconnectors between national energy markets
The partners say they will also consider the impact on marine flora and fauna, in close contact with nature and environmental organizations. A first “quick-scan” of the impact on flora and fauna on the Dogger Bank shows both opportunities as potential risks for animals and biodiversity, they said.