The study an overview of existing national and regional long-term analyses, assumptions, and plans for offshore renewable energy and grids in the North Seas Energy Cooperation (NSEC) countries. The North Sea has substantial potential for offshore electricity generation technologies, and offshore wind in particular, thanks to the relative shallowness of its waters.
The study provides recommendations on aspects that should be considered in future scenario developments in the North Sea region, such as assessing renewable energy (RE) potential, maritime spatial planning, multi-energy considerations, and risk assessment.
The studies used for the analysis are from 2018 to 2021 to look at the current policy direction of full net decarbonisation of the European economy in 2050. Furthermore, they cover a representative spectrum of the development of offshore renewable energy and energy networks in the North Sea region at different geographical scales, to varying levels of detail of the energy system, and by different actors.
The study has found that the practices used by coastal Member States to establish their respective maritime spatial plans diverge considerably, and reporting of areas dedicated to renewable energy deployment and/or energy infrastructure is heterogeneous. Stakeholders highlighted the need for internationally aligned Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and coordinated offshore and onshore grid planning.
The study also found three key regulatory and market design uncertainties that may slow down the development of offshore wind:
- The incentives for renewable hydrogen demand
- The definition of the offshore market design, especially for hybrid projects, i.e. projects that combine offshore generation capacity with transmission capacity connecting two or more onshore bidding zones. Market design uncertainties are related, among others to the definition of offshore bidding zones and the allocation of congestion incomes. In addition, the business models and remuneration schemes to incentivise project developers to move away from project-by-project generation build out to a more coordinated one
- The duration of the permitting process, especially for joint or hybrid project due to their international nature