Utility developer Innogy and transmission operator TenneT are to investigate an “international windconnector” that would link European grid networks via offshore wind farms.

The companies are to explore the potential for connecting via what they are calling a North Sea Wind Power Hub including feasible design options, economics and regulatory and market requirements.

"This investigation will build on the knowledge of previous studies and the latest successes on cost reduction in offshore wind. It will particularly focus on the opportunities for the large-scale deployment of offshore wind in the North Sea further offshore,” said the partners.

“Innogy and TenneT will pool their significant experience and insight to establish the practical benefits of different approaches to building the necessary infrastructure. Both parties have a proven track record,” they added.

TenneT chief executive Mel Kroon said: “New approaches must be investigated to connect large-scale offshore wind to the onshore grids. A North Sea Wind Power Hub system supports the deployment of significantly larger volumes of offshore wind (and) the cooperation with Innogy offers us a perfect opportunity to investigate such new approaches.”

Innogy chief operating officer Hans Bunting said: “Research and development is crucial to bring renewable generation to the next level. Connecting offshore wind projects into an independent transmission system creates the potential to feed into multiple markets.”

TenneT is also working with Vattenfall to asses the potential for connecting the Ijmuiden Ver offshore zone in the Netherlands and one of the Swedish utility’s offshore wind substations in the UK. 

The initiative is part of the WindConnector concept and would enable power to be traded between the two markets "through the efficient use of the wind transmission infrastructure”. Ijmuiden Ver is included in the post-2023 roadmap for the Dutch offshore sector.

Vattenfall senior vice president Gunnar Groebler said: “It was a natural and conscious choice taking a lead with TenneT on this study. Anything we can do to optimise our assets with a smart project like WindConnector is good for a competitive, low cost, fossil-free offshore wind industry and great news for consumers.”

Results of feasibility studies into WindConnector are due later this year.

Image: TenneT has previously suggested offshore grid islands (TenneT)