Strategic linking and deployment of all energy systems in the North Sea could save the Netherlands billions on the road to a low-CO2 energy supply in 2050. This follows from the report “Unlocking potential of the North Sea”.

According to the report, which presents the conclusions of the North Sea Energy research programme, ‘If the Netherlands deploys offshore wind, offshore natural gas, carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen and electricity produced offshore and makes smart use of existing infrastructure, it can turn the North Sea into a “powerhouse”.’

‘The road to a fully sustainable energy system is one with many uncertainties and complex issues,’ says Ernst Paul Nas, deputy Director-General of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate. ‘By making smart links between different applications in the North Sea, we can save costs, make more effective use of space at sea and accelerate the energy transition.’

According to Hans Timmers, chairman of NWEA, offshore wind will play a large role in the energy transition, but ‘wind can’t do it alone. Integration with energy storage and interconnection with other networks and countries around the North Sea provide the balance in this new sustainable energy network.’

Focus on synergies

The study shows that the energy transition will remain affordable if the entire offshore portfolio is used and the various sectors are linked. Then added value is possible. Of course, this requires good direction and coordination. The report therefore also includes recommendations for rapid action in the field of regulation, legislation aimed at energy transition, and further elaboration of guidelines for permits and international harmonisation.

‘Our programme distinguishes itself by placing all offshore possibilities in an integrated systems approach, with the focus on synergies,’ explains René Peters, TNO’s expert in integrating energy systems. ‘In the future, we will be dependent on the mix of several energy types. Think of it as a kind of orchestra that needs to be well and optimally attuned to each other. We therefore look at the various scenarios within the programme.’

‘It turns out that if you were to limit CCS in the North Sea now, it would cost us billions of euros extra just to remove that CO2 in a different way. Electrification of platforms with offshore wind energy can accelerate CO2 emission reduction and hydrogen conversion at sea can reduce system costs. Important for future government policy,’ he adds.

The next phase of the research will look at the North-West European scale. ‘It is precisely the balancing of energy markets that will make the difference in terms of security of supply, costs of energy transition and perhaps also job potential, certainly at European level,’ says Peters.

North Sea Energy programme

The North Sea Energy programme is a public-private research consortium of more than thirty international parties. In addition to research, it also tests results in practice. A first pilot within this scope is already being developed: PosHYdon. This involves the integration of offshore wind, offshore gas and green hydrogen on a production platform off the coast of Scheveningen.

The report ‘Unlocking potential of the North Sea’ can be downloaded from

Source: ANP