Gas TSOs from eight countries surrounding the North Sea have signed a joint declaration committing to the development of the full renewable energy potential of the region.
The TSOs, which include Energinet, Gas Networks Ireland, and National Gas Transmission, have experience in operating gas pipelines in and around the North Sea with third-party access services in a regulated environment, ensuring safe gas supply to European customers. With this expertise, they are well-positioned to deploy hydrogen pipeline infrastructure, possibly by repurposing existing natural gas offshore pipelines or installing new pipelines.
The North Sea has the potential to provide more affordable, secure, and sustainable energy for Europe, and the deployment of renewable energy, including green electricity and green hydrogen from offshore wind, is key to achieving the target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, set in the European Climate Law and UK Net Zero Strategy. In order to achieve the ambitious targets for offshore wind energy production and associated green hydrogen production capacity, the TSOs have committed to a harmonious development of the full renewable energy potential of the North Sea.
According to the TSOs, some countries will benefit from excess renewable energy production while other countries will not have enough domestic resources. This will drive import-export flows between countries thanks to a renewable offshore energy system, both electricity and hydrogen. To harness the full North Sea resource potential, the TSOs call upon all stakeholders, from gas and electricity TSOs over future hydrogen network operators to policy makers, to join forces on developing a cost-benefit framework to address cross-border cost allocation and financing issues between countries, developing a legal and regulatory framework for the optimal deployment of the necessary hydrogen and CO2 transmission infrastructure, developing a market framework to enable the early deployment of the offshore hydrogen value chain, and speeding up the permitting processes and maritime spatial planning with the involvement of electricity and gas TSOs.
The potential impact of the North Sea renewable energy project is enormous. It could help reduce overall system costs while boosting its robustness, as well as aid in the transition towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However, there are also potential challenges surrounding the project, including the development of the necessary infrastructure, the cost and financing of the project, and the legal and regulatory frameworks that need to be put in place.
Despite the potential challenges, the TSOs are optimistic about the project’s success. Pascal De Buck, CEO of Fluxys, one of the undersigning TSOs, says, “A balanced system of green electricity and green hydrogen from North Sea wind is the way forward to reduce overall system costs while boosting its robustness. Let’s combine our forces to ensure not a single gust of wind goes to waste in the North Sea.”
The North Sea renewable energy project has the potential to deliver affordable, secure, and sustainable energy for Europe. With the commitment of the gas TSOs and other stakeholders, including policy makers and electricity TSOs, the project has a strong chance of success. However, there are potential challenges that need to be addressed, including the development of necessary infrastructure, cost and financing issues, and legal and regulatory frameworks. The North Sea renewable energy project is an exciting and ambitious venture that could significantly impact the transition towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.