The Baseline Environmental Assessment for the EU Offshore Electricity Grid in the Irish and North Seas (BEAGINS) was published in 2017. It was authored jointly by RPS and ECOFYS who were tasked by the European Commission to prepare an environmental baseline study based on a regional concept of renewable energy sources, energy storage and a meshed electricity grid in the North and Irish Seas. This was to ensure that environmental concerns and impacts were appropriately considered at an early stage in the development of such an offshore energy grid system.
RPS, using in-house GIS resources, was engaged in accessing and compiling data registers and a data catalogue to support desktop research into the baseline conditions. The project team also undertook significant consultation with the target Member States to elicit feedback on the Regional Plan and the scope of the baseline study.
The study focused particularly on opportunities for coordination between Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. The development of an offshore renewable energy system, including grid infrastructure, in the Irish and North Seas represents a significant opportunity towards meeting the European Union’s energy goals. The region has a vast renewable energy potential that could provide a significant share of Europe’s power supply by 2030. The study and associated report is intended to inform any future plans for renewable energy generation, energy storage, grid cables and associated equipment in the Irish and North Seas.
Six recommendations were identified from the baseline study to set building blocks towards creating a backdrop where coordination is facilitated across member states. These include:
Development of an appropriate planning framework
Coordinated infrastructure roll-out
Development of an appropriate management framework
Data management and storage