Current status and future trends of grid cables, electricity interconnectors and pipelines in the North Sea

13 June 2019 - Published by Nico Nolte
High densities of submarine cables (including both power and telecommunication cables) and pipelines (for oil or gas transport) run across large stretches of the North Sea. These cables and pipelines serve many different industries and this density is growing significantly in line with general energy industry development. A recently published report, developed under the NorthSEE project, specifically focuses on offshore grid development and electricity interconnectors which are closely linked to the increasing generation of offshore renewable energy to meet EU energy and interconnection targets for 2020 to 2030 and decarbonisation by 2050. It is the ambition of the EU to have a fully-integrated internal energy market, however cross-border interconnections are limited and some countries are in danger of not achieving the 10% EU interconnection target by 2020 nor the 15% target by 2030.

Offshore linear energy infrastructure may cover a greater area than the offshore wind farm itself, cross country borders, pass through environmentally sensitive areas and interact with other marine activities and users. The role of MSP for grid development is to ensure effective routing, configuration and location of grid infrastructure. MSP can help by identifying areas of least constraint to locate cable corridors which match up offshore energy resource to suitable grid connection points on land, whilst carefully routing around environmentally sensitive areas.

There is an increasing need to understand the current and future spatial demands for submarine cables in the NSR. Countries are faced with the need to accommodate those cable systems already in service as well as the growth of new connections and networks that are being installed to serve energy generation and distribution policies. The European co-funded NorthSEE project addresses these challenges directly. The report is specifically focused the status quo of offshore linear energy infrastructure, the future trends, grid connection points, interconnectors and interconnection demand in the NSR. 

The report findings are integrated on the NorthSEE website and the report & annex be downloaded from the Project Library section.