The North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative would knit together the power grids of the countries adjacent to the North Sea, and enable a far greater share of renewables—especially offshore wind—on the northern European grid than would be possible otherwise. It would also make it possible to use Norway’s substantial hydro capacity as a giant battery to balance out the variability of wind and solar on the grid. And in the longer term, it could be a key part of a European “supergrid” that would connect the transmission grids of all of Europe, and potentially even tap the massive solar capacity of the Middle East and northern Africa. These are big, bold ideas, and implementing them won’t be easy or cheap, but the benefits would be enormous… so much so that building these transmission links might be inevitable. But the planning alone has already gone on for at least seven years, and while some of the countries that would connect to the North Seas Offshore Grid are already building parts of their contribution to it, there is still much work to be done…and building the physical infrastructure might be the easy part! In this episode we talk with a Dutch expert who has been directly involved in evaluating and planning for these supergrids to see where they now stand, what their potential costs and benefits are, and what we might expect in the future.
Guest: Kees van der Leun graduated from Utrecht University with an MSc in Physics in 1986. He joined Ecofys as its third employee and was involved in the management of the company ever since. At present, he is Managing Partner at Ecofys leading the development of its strategic consultancy, deploying the full value of the wide range of expertise available in the company. Kees was involved in various projects concerning the North Sea energy system, and he took part in the steering group of the work Ecofys did for TenneT on their stakeholder process for the grid connection of the new generation of offshore wind farms in The Netherlands. At present, he leads a team developing a vision on how to accelerate the integrated approach to the future North Sea energy system.
On Twitter: @Sustainable2050
On the Web: ecofys.com
Recording date: December 16, 2016
Air date: January 11, 2017
Geek rating: 4