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According to a recent analysis by Hitachi Energy and WindEurope, Europe must make significant investments in offshore grids to accommodate the large number of new wind farms, and the creation of a so-called meshed grid would be crucial for the development of offshore wind in Europe. These are collections of offshore wind farms that may transmit power to two or more national grids using fewer cables that connect to the shore.
Up until recently, the construction of offshore electrical infrastructure was mostly uncoordinated. Typically, wind farms have been linked to a single point of connection with little coordination of future growth. Additionally, the main purpose of subsea interconnectors is to link just two different national transmission systems.
This is beginning to alter. There are currently offshore hybrid wind farms linked to multiple national grids. The German and Danish grids are connected by the Kriegers Flak wind farm. Additionally, many nations desire to pair offshore wind projects with transmission infrastructure. These offshore hybrids improve international energy flows while saving money and space.
Offshore hybrid projects will naturally connect to one another to create meshed offshore grids as they progress. The onshore grid will need to be strengthened, and a full-scale offshore grid deployment will be necessary.
Energy islands will serve as a crucial building block for connected offshore systems as well. Plans to construct these islands have been announced by Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark. They will present wind power as a beacon of regional collaboration by acting as hubs for transferring electricity generated by nearby wind farms to nearby grids.
The technology is already in place to create these grid solutions, but it needs to be implemented more quickly and at a larger scale. For the deployment of hybrids to go more quickly, there needs to be more certainty at the European level for developers to reduce investment risks. National governments must also offer a transparent foundation for governance. The point-to-point connection strategy used nowadays is quite obvious. Additionally, the development of interconnected offshore grids presents a fantastic potential to increase the penetration of renewable energy sources. The requirement for an efficient governance model is one of the new challenges given by multiple terminals, vendors, connecting clusters of wind farms, and markets.
Resilient supply chains and long-term project visibility are also necessary for the construction of an offshore meshed grid. For the construction of an offshore meshed grid, however, we require more than simply the technology. Policymakers must make appropriate preparations for these developments, and industry participants must develop creative business strategies. In addition, one of the crucial issues that must be addressed is how to implement the energy transition given the available human resources and talents.
For meshed offshore grids to be fully utilised for their societal, environmental, economic, and technical benefits, cross-border and cross-sector coordination and cooperation will be essential. Effective coordination between the planning and execution phases will depend on programmes like the North Seas Energy Cooperation.