National Grid Ventures, the commercial development arm of National Grid, has teamed up with Dutch transmission system operator TenneT to explore the feasibility of transmitting power generated by offshore turbines using subsea electricity cables. Under the terms of the agreement, TenneT and National Grid Ventures will explore the development of a multi-purpose interconnector (MPI) to link up to 4 GW of British and Dutch offshore wind capacity between the two electricity systems simultaneously, a move that could open new markets to sell electricity and cut down on times when wind farms are shut off due to oversupply.

The development would be the first of its kind for the UK and the Netherlands in the North Sea. The UK is the largest market in the world for offshore wind farms, while the Netherlands is rapidly building up a pipeline of zero-subsidy projects. A link would help broaden the market for unsubsidized projects in the two countries to sell power where prices are highest.

The UK Government recently announced it was aiming for 40 GW of wind energy by the end of the decade in order to help it hit its legally binding target to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The Dutch government is targeting 11.5 GW by 2030, with a further increase of between 20 and 40 GW in the subsequent 20 years.

Interconnectors will only become more important to Britain as its aging fleet of nuclear reactors shuts down, although a new reactor at Hinkley Point C will boost domestic capacity from 2025. The two companies aim to identify the first project to lead the plan by end-2021 and be linked by 2029. National Grid has been aiming for 7.8 GW of interconnections to Europe by 2024, enough to supply 25 per cent of Britain’s electricity requirements.

REGlobal’s Views: Innovative projects like this will help maximise the use of the massive amount of power planned to be generated from offshore wind, which is set to be the dominant technology in Europe’s energy system by the end of this decade. Building more interconnectors will drive down costs for consumers even further by allowing more clean electricity to flow between countries.