A multipurpose island, designed to seize economic opportunities and enhance nature
A multi-purpose island provides additional benefits over fixed offshore platforms (so-called jackets). It stimulates the energy transition, drives down the costs of the renewable energy transition, creates room for nature inclusive island design, facilitates Research & Development (R&D) and innovation, creates a safe working environment, as well as additional economic opportunities.
The main purpose of an artificial island in the North Sea would be to provide a location for the electrical infrastructure used for the transmission of the electricity generated by the IJVER wind farms to the mainland.
A multipurpose island creates opportunities for a multitude of activities that will be crucial for the energy transition. OSF foresees the following functions:
- A location for the electrical infrastructure of TenneT, the Dutch transmission system operator (TSO)
- A location for a green hydrogen production facility. Converting electricity to hydrogen directly on the island will avoid electrical losses due to transportation, reduces the number of required cables to shore and avoids costly onshore grid reinforcements. By retrofitting existing oil & gas pipelines in the area for this purpose, written off assets can be given a second purpose. Hydrogen will play a vital role in the energy system and will be used as input for the industrial sector
- A harbor able to facilitate the construction and maintenance of the IJVER wind farms as well as search and rescue missions in the area
- Accomodation for the vastly increasing amount of offshore personnel that will be required to operate the wind farms and need to be able to work safely and comfortably in rough North Sea conditions
- (Electrical) interconnection with the United Kingdom. The resulting increase in grid flexibility will be crucial as intermittent energy generation capacity further increases
- A research facility for knowledge institutes and NGOs to conduct research, to improve our understanding of the effects of the energy transition on marine life
The foreseen multifunctionality will decrease costs, as costs are borne by more end users - further improving economic opportunities of the island solution.
OSF intends to capture these opportunities in a design that minimises negative ecological impact and has the potential to create ecological value. By expanding the scope of the island, more financial and creative leeway is created to build in an environmentally friendly way. The concept of “building with nature”, as developed by the Dutch maritime engineering sector, can be applied and further developed here.
Potential for ecological enhancement below the surface - Source: Royal HaskoningDHV
Overall, construction of a multifunctional artificial island in the IJVER area would put the Netherlands on the forefront of the developments regarding the innovative use of the North Sea and generate valuable experience on the relative short term. If no ambition is shown now, the window of opportunity will close, as the next suitable wind farm area will not be developed until well after 2030.