Plan for electricity motorways presented

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sea ​​cable TenneT comes ashore
NOS News
  • Robert Coster

    Economics reporter

In the future, the majority of our electricity will come from the large wind farms in the North Sea. This will require huge investments of tens of billions of euros in the coming decades. National manager of the high-voltage grid TenneT is therefore today presenting the electricity network as it should look at the end of the energy transition.

Renewal is badly needed, because the Dutch electricity network is already squeaking and creaking. For example, in many places there is too little capacity to transport power from wind and solar parks to the places where the electricity is needed. Private individuals are also unable to always supply the electricity they generate with solar panels back to the grid. Companies that want to switch from gas to electricity and need heavier connections are placed on a waiting list in many places.

This is because a new connection is only created if a concrete request is made for it. TenneT wants to turn this around and build the connections that we can expect to need in the future. This is already happening at sea, where cables to future wind farms are being planned that have not yet been put out to tender by the government.

generator platform for direct current North Sea

The existing onshore high-voltage grid will be expanded and upgraded to enable the transition from gas to electricity for households and businesses. This concerns alternating current (AC) that is also used in homes.

Because the large industrial clusters in the Netherlands also have to switch to electricity, electricity highways are being built to bring direct current (DC) from the source – for example offshore wind farms – to the user.

Those users are the industrial areas around Eemshaven and Delfzijl, the industry around the IJ in Amsterdam, the ports of Rotterdam and Terneuzen and the Chemelot industrial area near Geleen in Limburg.

The direct current connections will be partly installed underground. Direct current can be transported over long distances better, faster and with less capacity loss than alternating current. Demand for heavier industrial power connections has grown much faster than expected due to high gas prices last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Because the Netherlands has to switch from oil and gas to sustainably generated electricity because of the climate goals, it is becoming more dependent on the weather. Large wind farms in the North Sea will supply most of the electricity. TenneT wants to collaborate with other North Sea countries to efficiently absorb the peaks and troughs of wind energy.

This means that wind farms must not only be connected to the country that builds them, but also to other North Sea countries. The cables in the North Sea are then linked together via platforms so that the Netherlands can supply electricity to, for example, Denmark or England in the event of a surplus, and vice versa.

In addition, mutual power connections must make it possible to use electricity from hydroelectric power stations in Norway or from nuclear power stations in France and the United Kingdom when there is no wind.

What are the problems and is there a solution for the power grid? We explain it in this video:

Voltage on the electricity grid

Good mutual agreements still need to be made for the exchange of electricity at sea. The North Sea countries will soon discuss this at a conference of ministers and government leaders in Ostend, Belgium.

Last year, cooperation on the North Sea was started in Esbjerg, Denmark. After the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Luxembourg are now also joining this collaboration.

The more there is mutual cooperation, the less gas-fired power plants need to be kept in reserve to have enough electricity when there is no wind, is the idea.

  • Economy

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