The research project
The conference builds on the findings of the research project “Developing a Transnational Electricity Grid Offshore: Design, Operations and Regulatory Solutions”. This research project has been undertaken jointly by the Groningen Centre of Energy Law (GCEL) at the University of Groningen and the Delft University of Technology (TUD). Both the project as well as the conference are funded by the Dutch Scientific Organisation (NWO).
Within this four-years research project, the researchers have identified the legal and technical challenges that a transnational offshore grid would face. In addition, they have developed solutions of how to address the existing barriers. The joint project has made an important contribution to the study of how proposals for an offshore grid could be realised. The involved researches have spoken on many national and international conferences. Further, they have published several joint and individual papers on this topic. For more information, see the NWO-website.
Interdisciplinary and practice-oriented research
Within this interdisciplinary project, two PhD researchers have explored the existing barriers and possible solutions. Hannah Katharina Müller from the Groningen Centre of Energy Law has focused on the legal and regulatory aspects. Shahab Shariat Torbaghan from the Delft University of Technology has explored the techno-economic issues. This combination of legal and technological research has enabled potential obstacles to grid development and solutions to be explored from different perspectives.
Further, the project has benefitted from access to a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) consisting of persons with expertise in technical, legal, political and regulatory aspects of the construction and operation of electricity transmission infrastructure. SAG members included representatives of transmission system operators in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and of political and regulatory institutions in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. Interaction with SAG members has ensured that the project researchers were aware of difficulties being encountered in practice with grid development or anticipated by those involved with designing the infrastructure of the future. It also provided regular opportunities to communicate research outcomes to representatives of organisations engaged with or otherwise interested in grid development.
Müller, LL.M., from GCEL has developed proposals for supportive legal and regulatory structures for offshore infrastructure development. In her research, she has focused on the existing legal framework under international, EU and national law for offshore development. Here, Hannah has identified the main legal barriers. In addition, she has examined how law could be used to coordinate generation and transmission planning and to enable the development of a transnational offshore grid in the long term. Hannah has published several academic papers on her research and has presented her findings at many international conferences and workshops.
Shahab Shariat Torbaghan,
MSc., from the TUD has investigated the possibilities for optimising benefits both to society and investors in the design and operation of a North Sea offshore grid. The focus was on the development of a model that can be used to identify optimal configurations for offshore electricity infrastructure in the North Sea including the capacities that should be allowed for cables comprising a regional grid. The model has been used to explore the feasibility of different grid configurations and cable capacities. It has also provided insights into the appropriate pricing and operational rules for an offshore HVDC VSC grid. Shahab has published several papers on this issued and has presented his findings on several technical workshops and international conferences.
At this conference, the two researchers will present their findings and ideas. Subsequently, the invited speakers will focus on the main issues that need to be addressed to develop a transnational offshore grid in the long term. The aim of the conference is to develop a roadmap of the most important steps that need to be taken in the near future.
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