Improved Grid Pivotal for a Decarbonized Electricity Supply for North Seas Countries

In a Recharge article, Navigant investigates what connecting Europe's offshore wind could mean for climate objectives

To be in line with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C, Europe will need a carbon-neutral electricity supply as early as 2045. The increased and efficient deployment of renewables will be key, as will a smart and robust rollout of interconnection between countries and development of sufficient flexibility options.

In a Recharge article based on a study analyzing the implication of the Paris Agreement, Maurits Ornstein, director at Navigant, estimates a 230 GW offshore wind capacity target for 2045 for the North Seas countries (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway). Of this target, 180 GW will be deployed in the North Sea and another 50 GW in the Baltic Sea, Irish Sea, and Atlantic Ocean. These estimates assume 50% reduction in total energy demand by 2045 (relative to 2010), full decarbonization of electricity generation, and 45% of all final energy consumption coming from electricity.

“The challenge ahead should focus on how to realise this energy transition in the most cost-effective way. This requires efficiently using the costly infrastructure and — most likely — hybrid connections that combine offshore wind with interconnection capacity,” Ornstein wrote.  

With the transition to a sustainable energy supply, today’s 64% share of dispatchable generation in the energy mix of the North Seas countries would fall to 18% in 2045.

“Supporting such an energy system will require significantly expanding flexibility options in supply, demand and storage — on all time scales, including seasonal — in parallel with the rollout of the grid,” said Ornstein.

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