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While Trump OKs Keystone, Europe Puts Wind Energy Hub Plans Into Motion

Reducing CO2 emissions and achieving the climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement requires, amongst other things, the wide-spread adoption of renewable energy sources. While President Trump is busy pursuing his fossil fuel-heavy agenda, which includes the resurrection of the TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline project late last week, Europe continues to pursue a low-carbon future. A new trilateral agreement between transmission system operators (TSOs) TenneT TSO B.V. (Netherlands), Energinet (Denmark) and TenneT TSO GmbH (Germany) marks an important step forward for the future of large-scale renewable electricity in Europe.

Together, the three TSOs will create an energy hub in the North Sea to support 100 gigawatts of offshore wind. Dubbed the North Sea Wind Power Hub, the project will serve as a large connection point for thousands of future offshore wind turbines and could help make the low-carbon energy transition feasible and affordable for Europeans.

The North Sea's sandbank Dogger Bank has been identified as a potential location, as it offers a number of advantages to the project, including optimal wind conditions, a central locationand shallow water. The area currently constitutes 72 percent of theEurope’s installed wind energy capacity.

“This cooperation with Energinet is an invitation to TSOs from North Sea countries as well as other infrastructure companies to join the initiative. The ultimate goal is to build a solid coalition of companies that will make the European energy transition feasible and affordable,” said Mel Kroon, TenneT CEO.

“Building one or more artificial islands in the middle of the North Sea sounds like a science fiction project but it could actually be a very efficient and affordable way for the North Sea countries to meet the future demand for more renewable electricity,” said Energinet CTO Torben Glar Nielsen.

The hub is intended to act as a staging post for turbine operations and maintenance crews, as well as to provide a central connection for planned far-shore wind farms and host direct current lines acting as interconnectors to all countries bordering the North Sea, including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the U.K. The project also has major potential for large-scale wind energy generation, with a total possible capacity of 70,000 MW to 100,000 MW. Project costs have yet to be calculated, but the base alone is expected to clock in around €1.5 billion.

TenneT is currently in talks with other potential partners, including North Sea TSOs and other infrastructure companies, with the goal of achieving a multi-party consortium that will realize the North Sea Wind Power Hub project. “We hope that other North Sea transmission system operators will find the project interesting and join. Other partners can also be a part. There is no target or limit on partners,” said Jesper Nørskov Rasmussen, press officer at Energinet.