$2 billion artificial island planned as North Sea wind power hub
An artificial island in the middle of the North Sea - between the UK and Europe - may be created to act as a hub for electricity produced by wind farms.
The artificial island built of stone and sand, covering about 6sq km, would include an airstrip, harbour, living quarters and workshops. Early estimates put the cost of the island at over $2 billion, and further similar modules could be added over time.
On March 23, transmission system operators TenneT of the Netherlands, TenneT of Germany, and Energinet of Denmark are due to sign an agreement to co-operate on the development of the power hub.
Their idea is that the artificial island and surrounding wind farms would be built on Dogger Bank, a relatively shallow area about 100km off the east coast of the UK. Development could take place between 2030 and 2050.
READ MORE: Land beneath the North Sea
Dogger Bank is a sandbank covering an area of 18,700sq km, and in places is only 18 metres under the surface of the sea. It has a high diversity of fish species, is an important fishing ground, and is within the exclusive economic zones of four countries.
Until about 5500 years ago Dogger Bank was an island, but as the ice melted it was covered by rising seas.
Energinet said many wind farms could be connected to the so-called Power Link Islands, possibly eventually generating from 70,000 to 100,000 megawatts - enough to meet the electricity needs of more than 80 million people. The electricity could go to the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium.
TenneT said the North Sea island vision sought to make targets for CO2 reduction "feasible and affordable". The hub islands could both distribute energy from surrounding wind generation, and function as "international electricity highways" for trading electricity.
"Solar and wind energy will be necessary on a large scale because attainment of Europe's targets for reducing CO2 emissions depends largely on the production of renewable electricity," TenneT said.
Without the island, the costs of developing wind farms far out to sea would be significantly higher than the cost of wind farms much closer to shore.
"The Dogger Bank is relatively shallow and is large with the space needed for large-scale wind energy. The shallower the water, the lower will be the cost of building the wind farms and the island," TenneT said.
"Another very important matter is that there is often a strong wind in that part of the North Sea. This produces a high yield of wind energy. In short, an island in the middle of the North Sea offers everything necessary to make offshore wind energy a success."
The companies involved are talking to other potential partners, some of which are not transmission operators.