New research programme to accelerate offshore energy transition.

Yesterday, May 15 marked the start of the TKI North Sea Energy programme, joining the forces of corporate and research institutions to accelerate the offshore energy transition – the joint approach will be saving space, costs and carbon emissions. The research programme has a EUR 1 million budget and focuses on research and development of smart combinations of offshore wind and gas infrastructures. The programme is supported by TKI Topsector Energie and 15 partners including business corporations, sector organisations, research institutions and civil society organisations.

At the kick-off meeting in The Hague Ms. Merei Wagenaar, director of the Energy Market and Innovations Department of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, was presented with 2 recent research reports produced by the TKI North Sea Energy programme, researching the opportunities for environment, climate, businesses and state revenues that will arise as a result of an integral approach by both offshore and civil society parties addressing the issues at hand.

Researching the integration of energy system flows

For 2017, the programme plans to finalize the mapping of North Sea energy system flows, as well as establishing the calculated added value of system integration in terms of economy, carbon emission-reductions and energy transition acceleration. The outcome will lead to opportunities for intensive collaborations between offshore corporations and the smart integration of infrastructures and service products, which in turn will lead to positive effects for the state’s checkbook and to large scale reductions in energy usage and carbon emissions.

‘The North Sea is an important energy source and likely to become a bench mark in the energy transition,’ says TNO’s René Peters. ‘This location will be showing major changes over the next years: with the Dutch gas reserves now diminishing we expect that fossil fuel as a major source of energy for the Dutch market will diminish in the next decades, including those at the North Sea. At the same time renewable energy sourcing from this exact area will be expanding significantly.’

One of the studies presented this day is by Energy Delta Institute – a research into the economical viability of hydrogen production through the conversion of wind power on two offshore production platforms of ENGIE E&P. The wind power that is converted to gas (power-to-gas), could be for instance, transported to land in gas pipes instead of electricity cables. Results show that production of so called ‘green’ hydrogen power through offshore wind is technically possible but as yet not sufficiently profitable. This could change in the next decades following possible technological innovations, cost reductions and the development of a significant market for ‘green’ hydrogen power.

The second study presented today is by ECN, TNO and Energy Academy Europe and researches, next to power-to-gas, the further opportunities and possible obstacles for market parties when moving towards smart integration of energy systems. In this research the focus was on linking existing gas infrastructure for transportation and the possible offshore storage of carbon. Results show that electrification of the platforms would offer the best proposition for emission and cost reductions in the short term and on-platform energy conversion and storage will present opportunities for large scale, flexible incorporation of offshore wind.

At present the following partners are involved in this programme:

EBN, Total, Gasunie, NAM, Gasterra, TAQA, Huisman, NOGEPA, VBMS, TNO, ECN, EAE, EDI, Topsector Energie, Shell en Siemens.

Relevant links

Studies and other sources
– Rapport: (presentatie 15 mei): Sensei – Strategies towards an efficient future North Sea energy infrastructure
– Rapport (presentatie 15 mei): On the economics of offshore energy conversion: Smart combinations – Converting offshore wind energy into green hydrogen on existing oil and gas platforms in the North Sea
– Kamerbrief: ‘Kamerbrief over SDE+ Wind op Zee 2015’
– Rapport: ‘System Integration Offshore Energy: Innovation Project North Sea Energy’
– Rapport: ‘Netherlands masterplan for decommissioning and re-use’