National Grid, a UK firm, has stated that it is negotiating with two other partners about constructing an “energy island” in the North Sea that would employ wind farms to provide sustainable electricity to millions of households across north-western Europe. For years, the concept of the renewable power hub situated in North Sea has been discussed, but it has yet to become a reality. The plan envisions offshore wind farms with substantially greater capacity than those already in use, with subsea electrical cables carrying the energy to the countries that need it most.
Because National Grid is a key developer of these kinds of long-distance cables within this region, most lately one connecting Norway and the United Kingdom, its participation in discussions with other energy companies improves the likelihood that the concept will be developed. Nicola Medalova of National Grid said, “We are in tripartite negotiations over an energy island that the United Kingdom would likely connect to.” She wouldn’t say who the other two partners are with whom the company is in talks. National Grid’s spokesman likewise failed to confirm the parties concerned.
“Several energy island concepts are now being supported by various parties in countries like Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands. We’re in discussions with them all to comprehend the concepts out there,” the spokesperson said. Other energy network providers in the North Sea, such as TenneT in the Netherlands and Elia in Belgium, have expressed interest in constructing an energy island. Despite the engineering obstacles, TenneT judged two years ago that such a venture would be technically possible. However, the corporation told New Scientist that it is not in “concrete” talks for an energy island with National Grid. Tinne Van der Straeten, Belgium’s energy minister, announced in May that the government would build an island to “interconnect our wind turbines,” which will be built by Elia.
According to a spokeswoman, Elia is working on a second electricity interconnector line between the United Kingdom and Belgium, dubbed Nautilus, but “whether Nautilus will be linked to the Belgian energy island is still questionable.” Denmark has also expressed considerable interest in constructing an energy island, with Danish government announcing in February that it was going to assist in financing a £24 billion island to the country’s west. As the government explores new exports after a prohibition on new gas and oil fields, the Danish vision sees wind power playing a vital role in generating “green hydrogen.”
Energy islands, according to Medalova, may be created on a current natural island or a purpose-built artificial one. “You put a lot of different technologies in one space – hydrogen, wind, battery storage, all of it – and it may be connected to one country or two countries,” she explains. She goes on to say that the project in question is looking at “three-link points,” implying that three countries are engaged.