Achieving power sector decarbonisation in Europe and internationally will require not only new forms of zero carbon power generation but also major new infrastructure investment, particularly inter-regional electricity transmission grids. The development of large-scale transmission and market integration will need to be initiated and tested at a regional level before European-wide grid initiatives can be put in place.
The North Seas Grid represents one of the most promising examples for delivering these regional-level solutions. The concept entails both an increase in transmission interconnections between the countries of the North Seas Region and the connection and integration of significant levels of offshore and onshore renewables. In some cases, integrated grids that both interconnect multiple countries and connect to offshore wind farms may be developed.
The North Seas Grid is of particular current relevance for three reasons:
- Offshore wind represents a key element for European decarbonisation in many scenarios, but is unlikely to be developed at scale unless appropriate transmission arrangements are put in place.
- The regulatory regimes for offshore grids are still in a critical formative period. Once established, they will continue to shape the potential for offshore grid development over the long term.
- An intergovernmental process to support North Seas Grid development has been established (the ‘North Seas Countries Offshore Grid Initiative’ [NSCOGI]). This could be a leadership model for regional cooperation on energy infrastructure across Europe and internationally. However the process will need renewed political momentum in order to succeed.
E3G are working together with the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and partners in four European countries to deliver programme of advocacy, coalition-building and analysis to support political leadership on infrastructure for decarbonisation and to accelerate development of a North Seas Offshore Grid in line with European energy and climate goals.