VIDEO: Could an offshore wind power island be a future hop from the Humber?

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 13 Mar 2017

COULD this be a future hop from the Humber?

Ambitious plans have been announced by companies from three European nations to develop an island in the middle of the North Sea to service offshore wind. 

The shallow Dogger Bank zone has been identified by TenneT TSO in Holland and Germany, and Energinet.dk in Denmark, with favourable conditions above and below the water.

A trilateral agreement will now be signed in Brussels this month as they press on with developing a large renewable European electricity system in the North Sea. It is seen as a key part of accomplishing 2050 climate goals formulated in the Paris Agreement.

The Power Link Island or islands, would aid interconnection of between 70,000 and 100,000 MW, allowing generation and transmission to the UK, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium.

COMING OUR WAY? The Humber could have a strategic role to play in the ambitious proposal.

Mel Kroon, chief executive of TenneT, said: "This project can significantly contribute to a completely renewable supply of electricity in North west Europe. TenneT and Energinet.dk both have extensive experience in the fields of onshore grids, the connection of offshore wind energy and cross-border connections. Transition system operators are best placed to play a leading role in the long-term development of the offshore infrastructure. I am happy that we are going to take this step with our Danish colleagues and I look forward to the participation of other transmission system operators and possibly other partners."

Grimsby and Hull are key players in offshore wind, with the former an operations and maintenance hub and the latter now home to large scale manufacturing and assembly. And with Humberside Airport located less than half an hour from both ports, there could be huge opportunity should the futuristic concept emerge.

Currently crews sail to wind farms on a daily basis for operations and maintenance, with construction projects using accommodation barges to keep engineers out in the field. 

Race Bank and Hornsea will bring in a new generation of vessel for O&M which will take offshore wind closer to oil and gas, with fortnightly changes. An island concept could take it to a new level completely. 

No doubt all eyes will be on the development, and the opportunity to feed into it.

Mark O'Reilly, chairman and chief executive of Team Humber Marine Alliance, said: "I like the idea of it but I'd like to see more British involvement.

"There are two aspects to it of course. Is it setting up a 'new Grimsby' somewhere else, or is it something other ports would feed? It is too early to say whether it is an actual opportunity for us.

"We are seeing bigger vessels already, motherships carrying other vessels, it is Thunderbirds stuff, really incredible innovation the way industry has evolved. It needs to as well to get the costs down and take the industry forward again."

Peder Østermark Andreasen, chief executive of Energinet.dk said: "Offshore wind has in recent years proved to be increasingly competitive and it is important to us to constantly focus on further reduction in prices of grid connections and interconnections. We need innovative and large-scale projects so that offshore wind can play an even bigger part in our future energy supply."

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