RPS and Ecofys have been tasked by the European Commission (DG ENERGY) to prepare an environmental baseline study of renewable energy sources, energy storage and a meshed electricity grid in the North and Irish Seas.
The study is particularly focused on opportunities for coordination between Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. The development of the offshore energy grid in the North and Irish Seas can play an important role in delivering on EU renewable energy and climate change commitments.
The study includes a Regional Plan which identifies opportunities for a meshed grid which if constructed, would connect clusters of wind farms to offshore hubs which would in turn connect to various countries and each other reducing the need for individual radial connections.
Two key aspects of the study are data collection and stakeholder engagement. RPS, using in-house GIS resources, has been engaged in accessing and compiling data registers and a data catalogue to support desktop research into the baseline conditions. The project team has also undertaken significant consultation with the target Member States to elicit feedback on the Regional Plan and the scope of the baseline study. This has included a workshop hosted by the project team in Brussels. Stakeholders have also been invited to leave feedback on the draft Scoping Report and different 2030 grid scenarios presented in support of the Regional Plan. To promote the stakeholder engagement and to provide a portal for information exchange, a project website BEAGINS (baseline environmental assessment for the grid in the Irish and North Seas) has been established.
The findings will be available online as a resource which can be used to inform developers about environmental assessments for this type of infrastructure and thereby enabling the early incorporation of environmental implications into future plans and projects.