The Anonymous Widower

UK National Grid In Talks To Build An Energy Island In The North Sea

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the New Scientist.

This is the first paragraph.

UK company National Grid has revealed it is in talks with two other parties about building an “energy island” in the North Sea that would use wind farms to supply clean electricity to millions of homes in north-west Europe.

These are my thoughts.

An Artificial Island on the Dogger Bank

The idea of the North Sea Wind Power Hub in the area of the Dogger Bank has been around for a few years and has a comprehensive Wikipedia entry.

Wikipedia says that it would be an artificial island on the Dutch section of the Dogger Bank and the surrounding sea could eventually host up to 110 GW of wind turbines.

North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme

The Dutch and the Danes seems to have moved on and there is now a web site for the North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme.

The home page is split into two, with the upper half entitled Beyond The Waves and saying.

The incredible story of how the Netherlands went beyond technical engineering as it had ever been seen before. Beyond water management. To secure the lives of millions of inhabitants.

I have met Dutch engineers, who designed and built the Delta Works after the North Sea Floods of 1953 and I have seen the works all over the country and it is an impressive legacy.

And the lower half of the home page is entitled North Sea Wind Power Hub and saying.

Today, climate policy is largely national, decoupled and incremental. We need a new approach to effectively realise the potential of the North Sea and reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. We take a different perspective: harnessing the power of the North Sea requires a transnational and cross-sector approach to take the step-change we need.

Behind each half are two videos, which explain the concept of the programme.

It is a strange web site in a way.

  • It is written totally in English with English not American spelling.
  • The project is backed by Energinet, Gasunie and TenneT, who are Danish and Dutch companies, that are responsible for gas and electricity distribution networks in Denmark, Ger,many and The Netherlands.
  • There are four sections to the web site; Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and North Sea.

It is almost as if the web site has been designed for a British company to join the party.

Hubs And Spokes In North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme

If you watch the videos on the site, they will explain their concept of hubs and spokes, where not one but several energy islands or hubs will be connected by spokes or electricity cables and/or hydrogen pipelines to each other and the shore.

Many electrical networks on land are designed in a similar way, including in the UK, where we have clusters of power stations connected by the electricity grid.

The Dogger Bank

The Dogger Bank is a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea about 100 kilometres off the east coast of England.

Wikipedia says this about the geography of the Dogger Bank.

The bank extends over about 17,600 square kilometres (6,800 sq mi), and is about 260 by 100 kilometres (160 by 60 mi) in extent. The water depth ranges from 15 to 36 metres (50 to 120 ft), about 20 metres (65 ft) shallower than the surrounding sea.

As there are Gunfleet Sands Wind Farm and Scroby Sands Wind Farm and others, on sandbanks in the North Sea, it would appear that the engineering of building wind farms on sandbanks in the North Sea is well understood.

The Dogger Bank Wind Farm

We are already developing the four section Dogger Bank Wind Farm in our portion of the Dogger Bank and these could generate up to 4.8 GW by 2025.

The Dogger Bank Wind Farm has its own web site, which greets you with this statement.

Building the World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm

At 4.8 GW, it will be 45 % larger than Hinckley Point C nuclear power station, which is only 3.3 GW. So it is not small.

The three wind farms; Dogger Bank A, B and C will occupy 1670 square kilometres and generate a total of 3.6 GW or 0.0021 GW per square kilometre.

If this density of wind turbines could be erected all over the Dogger Bank, we could be looking at nearly 40 GW of capacity in the middle of the North Sea.

Interconnectors Across The North Sea

This Google Map shows the onshore route of the cable from the Dogger Bank Wind Farm.

Note.

  1. Hull and the River Humber at the bottom of the map.
  2. The red arrow which marks Creyke Beck sub station, where the cable from the Dogger Bank Wind Farm connects to the UK electricity grid.
  3. At the top of the map on the coast is the village of Ulrome, where the cable comes ashore.

The sub station is also close to the Hull and Scarborough Line, so would be ideal to feed any electrification erected.

I would assume that cables from the Dogger Bank Wind Farm could also link the Wind Farm to the proposed Dutch/Danish North Sea Wind Power Hub.

Given that the cables between the wind farms and Creyke Beck could in future handle at least 4.8 GW and the cables from the North Sea Wind Power Hub to mainland Europe would probably be larger, it looks like there could be a very high capacity interconnector between Yorkshire and Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands.

It almost makes the recently-opened North Sea Link to Norway, which is rated at 1.4 GW seem a bit small.

The North Sea Link

The North Sea Link is a joint project between Statnett and National Grid, which cost €2 billion and appears to have been delivered as planned, when it started operating in October 2021.

So it would appear that National Grid have shown themselves capable of delivering their end of a complex interconnector project.

Project Orion And The Shetlands

In Do BP And The Germans Have A Cunning Plan For European Energy Domination?, I introduced Project Orion, which is an electrification and hydrogen hub and clean energy project in the Shetland Islands.

The project’s scope is described in this graphic.

Note that Project Orion now has its own web site.

  • Could the Shetlands become an onshore hub for the North Sea Power Hub Programme?
  • Could Icelink, which is an interconnector to Iceland be incorporated?

With all this renewable energy and hydrogen, I believe that the Shetlands could become one of the most prosperous areas in Europe.

Funding The Wind Farms And Other Infrastructure In The North Sea

In World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, I described how Aviva were funding the Hornsea wind farm.

I very much believe that City of London financial institutions will be able to finance a lot of the developments in the North Sea.

After all National Grid managed to find a billion euros in a sock drawer to fund their half of the North Sea Link.

Electrifying The North Sea: A Gamechanger For Wind Power Production?

The title of this section, is the same as that of this article on Engineering and Technology Magazine.

This article in the magazine of the IET is a serious read and puts forward some useful facts and interesting ideas.

  • The EU is targeting offshore wind at 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050.
  • The UK is targeting offshore wind at 40 GW by 2030.
  • The article explains why HVDC electricity links should be used.
  • The major players in European offshore wind are the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.
  • The foundations for a North Sea grid, which could also support the wider ambitions for a European super-grid, are already forming.
  • A North Sea grid needs co-operation between governments and technology vendors. as well as technological innovation.
  • National Grid are thinking hard about HVDC electrical networks.
  • By combining HVDC links it can be possible to save a lot of development capital.
  • The Danes are already building artificial islands eighty kilometres offshore.
  • Electrical sub-stations could be built on the sea-bed.

I can see that by 2050, the North Sea, South of a line between Hull and Esbjerg in Denmark will be full of wind turbines, which could generate around 300 GW.

Further Reading

There are various articles and web pages that cover the possibility of a grid in the North Sea.

I shall add to these as required.

Conclusion

I am coming to the conclusion that National Grid will be joining the North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme.

  • They certainly have the expertise and access to funding to build long cable links.
  • The Dogger Bank wind farm would even be one of the hubs in the planned hub and spoke network covering the North Sea.
  • Only a short connection would be needed to connect the Dogger Bank wind farm, to where the Dutch and Danes originally planned to build the first energy island.
  • There may be other possibilities for wind farm hubs in the UK section of the North Sea. Hornsea Wind Farm, which could be well upwards of 5 GW is surely a possibility.
  • Would it also give access to the massive amounts of energy storage in the Norwegian mountains, through the North Sea Link or Nord.Link between Norway and Germany.

Without doubt, I know as a Control Engineer, that the more hubs and spokes in a network, the more stable it will be.

So is National Grid’s main reason to join is to stabilise the UK electricity grid? And in turn, this will stabilise the Danish and Dutch grids.

 

October 9, 2021 - Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. The answer to your last paragraph is dealt with in National Grid’s own website pages on the purpose and benefits of interconnectors.
    An article in the IET magazine in September provides complementary information to support the report from the New Scientist
    https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2021/09/electrifying-the-north-sea-a-gamechanger-for-wind-power-production/

    Comment by fammorris | October 9, 2021 | Reply

  2. Thanks!

    Comment by AnonW | October 9, 2021 | Reply

  3. According to research undertaken by marine scientists at Edinburgh’s Herriot Watt University….. “underwater power cables linked to offshore renewable energy facilities are disrupting the behaviour of brown crabs who can’t resist their electromagnetic pull.”
    Further the researchers “believe that the issue could have long-term consequences for the crab populations, which are the UK’s second-most valuable crustacean catch and the most valuable inshore catch.”

    Comment by fammorris | October 11, 2021 | Reply

    • Sounds like another reason for using offshore electrolysers and bringing the energy ashore as hydrogen.

      Comment by AnonW | October 11, 2021 | Reply


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