After a year that gave us a brand new instalment of Blade Runner, the futuristic film that depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in 2039 and delves into the effects of technology on the environment, it's encouraging to start 2018 reading about clean energy businesses thinking outside the box and providing a much more optimistic outlook.
This sci-fi-sounding proposal by the Dutch equivalent of the National Grid is sold as an innovative answer to the industry’s challenge of continuing to make offshore wind cheaper as turbines are pushed ever further off the coast to more expensive sites and the best spots closer to land fill up.
It's certainly a highly ambitious plan and despite initial concerns about the economics, the scale of this project (which could handle windfarms with a capacity of 30GW, more than twice today's installed offshore wind power across the whole of Europe) could entice new investors such as oil giants Shell, who have recently doubled their clean energy budget but have yet to delve into the offshore wind market.
Rob van der Hage, who manages TenneT’s offshore wind grid development programme, said: “It’s crucial for the industry to continue with the cost reduction path. The big challenge we are facing towards 2030 and 2050 is onshore wind is hampered by local opposition and nearshore is nearly full. It’s logical we are looking at areas further offshore.” As each further mile out to sea means another mile of expensive cabling to get the power back to land, the firm argues a more innovative approach is needed. The island idea would theoretically solve that by allowing economies of scale, higher wind speeds and mean relatively short, affordable cables taking power from offshore turbines to the island.