LONDON (Reuters) - Dutch power grid operator TenneT says building an island in the North Sea surrounded by wind farms could deliver more low-carbon power to European nations and help the EU meet targets for cuts in emissions.
State-owned TenneT said the European Union's goals for reducing carbon emissions largely depend on boosting renewable energy supplies, and countries within the bloc will have to cooperate for this to happen.
An island built in the shallow waters of Dogger Bank acting as an energy hub for surrounding wind farms and transmitting power to countries in northwest Europe would make this shift more feasible and affordable, TenneT said.
TenneT's plan would be for the alternating current from the farms to be converted on the island and transmitted via direct current cables to North Sea nations such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.
"In effect, the island will act as the spider in a North Sea web of offshore wind farms and international connections," TenneT said in its proposal published on Friday.
"This will increase the present efficient utilisation of a connection between the wind farm and the mainland from roughly 40 percent toward 100 percent," it said.
The estimated cost of the project was not disclosed.
"By building in the years ahead an island surrounded by wind farms, wind energy obtained way out at sea will assume the cost benefits of near-shore wind, thanks to the island. The smaller distance will allow use of the far cheaper alternating current connections," TenneT said.
It said Dogger Bank, a large sandbank about 100 km off the east coast of England, would be a good location for the hub as it is in shallow waters and there's plenty of wind. The island could perhaps be built between 2030 and 2050, TenneT said.
Forewind, a consortium comprising energy companies SSE, RWE, Statkraft and Statoil is planning to develop an offshore wind farm at Dogger Bank. The project was originally slated to have 9 gigawatts (GW) of capacity that has been scaled back to about 4.8 GW.
TenneT said it planned to talk with the EU and member states about cooperation on the island hub project, as well as about financing, regulation and legislation.
(Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by David Clarke)