Project description

The NorthSeaGrid Project

Recent discussions on the propsect of an interconnected offshore grid in Europe have gained resonance and led to general agreement that this kind of infrastructure brings both financial and technical benefits to the European power system, outweighing the cost of investment. This view is supported, in particular, by key governmental stakeholders of North Sea coastal states, grouped in the North Sea Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative (NSCOGI). NSCOGI has officially endorsed the NorthSeaGrid consortium to pursue analysis on practical next steps of meshed offshore grid implementation.

The NorthSeaGrid project, partly funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) program, is the follow-up project of OffshoreGrid. OffshoreGrid – a flagship project of the IEE - investigated an optimal design for a meshed offshore grid directly building on and integrating offshore wind energy infrastructure. NorthSeaGrid built further on the results and aimed to investigate why these projects are not being built today.

Instead of assessing another overall grid design for the North Sea, NorthSeaGrid carried out an in-depth analysis of three concrete case studies. A case, here, is an interconnector that directly integrates offshore wind energy and that electrically connects at least two countries. Since NorthSeaGrid considered the ongoing development of interconnector projects as crucial for European market integration. Projects that were at the offset of the project already far in the planning stage were considered as a given, and the case studies were thus additional to these. Under these assumptions, the following three representative cases were selected for analysis by the consortium in cooperation with key stakeholders:

Case 1:  Case study German Bight

  • Involved countries: Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands
  • Description:
    • German wind farm connected to both Germany and the Netherlands
    • Another German wind farm connected to Denmark
    • Hub-to-hub interconnection between the two wind farms
  • Types: Combination of hub-to-hub interconnection with split wind farm connection






Case 2:  Case study UK-Benelux

  • Involved countries: Belgium, United Kingdom, the Netherlands
  • Description:
    • Belgian Offshore wind farms connected to two platforms (alpha & beta)
    • Interconnection from UK to Belgian platform alpha
    • Dutch wind farm connected to Belgian platform beta
    • Interconnection from Belgian platform beta to the Netherlands
  • Types: Combination of hub-to-hub interconnection with split wind farm connection





Case 3:  Case study UK-Norway

  • Involved countries: United Kingdom, Norway
  • Description:
    • Large UK wind farm
    • Largest part of wind farm connected to UK
    • Remaining capacity connected to Norway
  • Types: Split wind farm connection with large capacities







The consortium delivered thorough analysis of these cases an explanation to the barriers to implementation of these projects, with a focus on financial risk and regulatory issues. For each case, the project consortium analysed the costs and benefits for all stakeholders and identified workable cost-benefit allocation rules that are needed to make them possible.

NorthSeaGrid was coordinated by 3E and carried out together with CEPS, Deutsche WindGuard, DNV, ECN, and IC consultants.

Major outputs & results

  • A detailed cost inventory for each case study project, for different scenarios of each case study
  • A calculation of the benefits of the interconnection analysed in each case study and scenario
  • Different models for cost and benefit allocation to different countries and stakeholders, such as project developer, TSO, etc.
  • Identification of risk and the financial effects of this risk, for each stakeholder
  • Evaluation of the compatibility of support schemes and regulatory frameworks in the different countries, with the proposed interconnection design
  • Discussion surrounding the political barriers present and how to overcome them
  • Specific recommendations for European and regional policy

NorthSeaGrid cooperated closely with NSCOGI throughout the duration of the project, as communication with the national governments is key for the implementation of a first step of an offshore grid. It is for this reason that NSCOGI served as a steering committee to the project, ensuring alignment of the project with national and European goals. Input from other major stakeholders, including TSOs and regulators, was also taken into account throughout the project to ensure applicable, relevant results.

Project essentials

  • Content: Technical, regulatory & financial analysis of practical case studies of building blocks for the development of an offshore grid
  • Steering committee: project supported by NSCOGI
  • Consortium: 3E (coordinator), CEPS, Deutsche Windguard, DNV, ECN and IC Consultants
  • Duration: April 2013 – April 2015
  • Budget: 1.4 mio€, up to 75% funded by IEE