80GW of North Sea wind interconnectivity needed to meet 2045 target: report

Researchers have found a total offshore wind capacity of at least 230GW is needed in northern Europe by 2045 to meet the requirements of the Paris climate agreement.

In its 2045 outlook and implications for offshore wind in the North Seas report, Ecofys said cross-border collaboration would be needed to increase capacity by up to 80GW of new interconnectivity in the North Sea, Irish Sea, Channel, Baltic Sea, and Atlantic Ocean to ensure reliable operation.

Of the total capacity, 180GW would be installed in the North Sea (covering five per cent of its total area), with the remaining 50GW in other seas.

The Dutch-based consultant said the rate of offshore wind installation rate needed to increase considerably, with a net installation rate of 10GW a year required from 2030 onwards.

“While there is sufficient space to develop the required offshore wind capacity, a careful balance needs to be maintained between ensuring maximum benefit to the environment on the one hand, and cost-efficient development of both wind farms and associated infrastructure on the other hand,” the authors noted.

“This requires a long-term view and close collaboration between all North Seas countries, taking into account changes in use (for example, decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure), and an overall spatial planning strategy that ensures cost-efficient utilisation of the resource, aligned with off- and onshore grid development and with maximum benefit for the environment, recognising all stakeholders’ interests.”

A minimum offshore interconnection of between 50MW and 80MW between the UK, Ireland, continental north west Europe and the Nordic nations would be needed.

To meet this, operators would need to, “develop a methodology to value grid stability that incentivises interconnector capacity to maintain operational security”, Ecofys wrote.

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