Startsein innovaties in de Noordzee

Column door Maarten Timmerman

Het is algemeen bekend dat de offshore windsector voor de grote uitdaging staat om over de komende jaren maar liefst 40% op de kosten te gaan besparen. Dat innovaties en demonstraties hierbij een belangrijke rol spelen is evident. Het feit dat er nauwelijks plekken zijn om baanbrekende innovaties te testen is echter iets waar menigeen niet bij stil staat. Vooral offshore locaties zijn erg schaars. Niet alleen in Nederland maar in heel Europa. Maar het startsein voor innovaties in de Noordzee is gegeven.

The Dutch government is allocating specific offshore locations for the demonstration of new technology. This is a major boost for the sector and absolutely necessary to convince developers and financiers to implement innovations in regular parks.

Back in 2010, it was already noted by the Taskforce on Offshore Wind Energy that innovations are crucial to reduce the costs of offshore wind energy. After recording it in the Innovation contract and the Energy Agreement and research by the sector under the heading “Leeghwater”, the TKI Wind at Sea developed a sector broad-based plan. Following this plan the Ministry of Economic Affairs has reserved areas in the tender for offshore wind energy to showcase ground-breaking innovations in so-called “co-locations”. The strength of the project lies in the physical and contractual decoupling of innovation locations relative to the normal wind farms that will be built in the Dutch wind zones.

The producers of the next generation of wind turbines and foundations can show the market on these demonstration sites that they can provide full and economically viable alternatives to existing technology. But there is also room for small breakthrough innovations.

It is good to see that the Dutch government is now giving a substantial boost to achieve the objectives of the Energy Agreement. The deployment of offshore wind is really starting to take serious form. In recent years, the Netherlands is very low in the polls in terms of renewable energy in Europe. The entire European Union is miles ahead. But that will change. Let this be a flying start to catch up. Then we will be a winner in the field of sustainability in a couple of years and on our way to 100% renewable electricity by 2050.

There is a positive vibe in the sector and you also see that our foreign colleagues are increasingly interested in what we are doing. That room for innovations now is created, gives the offshore wind policy in the Netherlands a new élan that I was hoping for, for years.