Baseline Environmental Assessment for the Grid in the Irish and North Seas (BEAGINS)

RPS and project partner Ecofys were tasked by the European Commission DG ENERGY to prepare an environmental baseline study of renewable energy sources, energy storage and electricity grids in the North and Irish Seas. This included the consideration of a variety of scenarios (e.g. high renewables scenario, radial and meshed grid configurations), spatial analysis and production of maps using GIS as well as a series of recommendations for the implementation of a regional concept of renewable energy systems (electricity transmission and generation infrastructure).

Key details

Project name

Baseline Environmental Assessment for the Grid in the Irish and North Seas (BEAGINS)

Client

European Commission Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENERGY)

Location

North and Irish Seas

Services provided

  • Data collation and stakeholder engagement
  • Compiling data registers, data catalogue and impact dictionary
  • Consultation with the target Member States to elicit feedback on the Regional Plan Concept and the scope of the baseline study
  • Development of the future energy and grid scenarios
  • Baseline environmental report
  • Regional concept report

Challenge

The development of offshore renewable energy systems in the Irish and North Seas represents a significant opportunity towards meeting the European Union’s energy, environmental, growth and employment objectives. To ensure that environmental concerns and impacts are appropriately considered in the development of such offshore energy systems, the European Commission ordered an environmental study to compile an environmental baseline including maps, constraints, risks, impacts, approaches to mitigation and alternatives.

This baseline study has been named BEAGINS which stands for ‘Baseline Environmental Assessment for the Grid in the Irish and North Seas’. The study area for BEAGINS includes the territorial waters of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK.

Solution

The overall study is a resource/tool to assist in the realisation of EU-wide and national renewable energy targets by providing a source of data on baseline, impacts and mitigation which can be applied/utilised across and within Member States within the study area. The study and follow-on work will also provide a forum for identification of data gaps and coordination of solutions between Member States to achieve targets.

Two key aspects of the study were data collection and stakeholder engagement. RPS, using in-house GIS resources, have 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 Concept and the scope of the baseline study. To promote stakeholder engagement and in order to provide a portal for information exchange, a project website was established, http://www.beagins.eu/

The Baseline Environmental Report, prepared as part of the study, sets out the effects (both positive and negative) of future energy and grid scenarios up to 2030. The future energy and grid scenarios were developed as a complementary part of the study in the form of a Regional Concept Report.

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