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UK-Dutch interconnector to link energy grids to North Sea offshore wind

Offshore wind farms in the North Sea could soon be connected to both the UK and Dutch energy systems under a new agreement between National Grid Ventures and Dutch transmission system operator TenneT.

The UK Government has recently said it aims to bring an additional 40 gigawatts of offshore wind power online by 2030, while the Dutch have said they will aim for 11.5 gigawatts in the same timeframe. The move should help both countries towards the goal of achieving net zero carbon by 2050.

National Grid said the efficient delivery of such large-scale offshore wind growth will require “significant amounts of new infrastructure” and “close cooperation between countries around the North Sea”.

The two firms will explore the development of a multi-purpose interconnector (MPI) to simultaneously connect up to four gigawatts of British and Dutch offshore wind between the two countries' electricity systems, providing an additional two gigawatts of interconnection capacity.

The system should allow spare capacity that has built up on the system to be spread more effectively between the two countries and help reduce the environmental impact on coastal communities.

The two companies aim to have a 'pathfinder' project defined by the end of 2021 with a view to delivering an operational asset by 2029.

Jon Butterworth, managing director of National Grid Ventures, said: “The UK’s binding commitment to net zero by 2050 and the European Green Deal have set clear goals for a low-carbon future for generations to come.

“Multi-purpose interconnectors have the potential to act as a key enabler for new offshore wind projects and we’re delighted to be partnering once again with TenneT to deliver an innovative vision to help realise the full green energy potential of the North Sea.”

Manon van Beek, chief executive of TenneT, said: “This agreement allows us to work with National Grid in the North Sea to develop innovative infrastructure that uses every spare electron of offshore wind generation to reach our decarbonisation targets.”

In September 2019, the UK Government launched a massive auction of offshore wind farm space in a bid to double the UK’s capacity.

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