Wind turbine in the sea seen from above - for National Grid's multi-purpose interconnector (MPI) story

Next gen interconnectors could create green energy hubs

We’re taking another step forward on the journey to net zero, with a new agreement with TenneT. This sees us collaborating with the Netherlands-based company to develop a fresh vision to link Dutch and British wind farms to the energy systems of both countries.

Great Britain has already built a world-leading offshore wind industry but, to reach the Government’s target of net zero by 2050, we need to take this a step further. We need to maximise the number of wind farms in operation, minimise their impact on local communities and achieve the best value for consumers.

Delivering the required growth in the amount of energy produced from offshore wind farms, in an efficient and sustainable way, will require new ideas, new infrastructure and close cooperation between countries.

National Grid Ventures, our commercial development arm, and the Dutch electricity transmission system operator, TenneT, have agreed to cooperate to look into the feasibility of connecting Dutch and British wind farms to the energy systems of both countries. This will be done via a new form of interconnector and would be the first development of its kind for the UK and the Netherlands in the North Sea.

Electricity interconnectors are high-voltage cables that connect the electricity systems of neighbouring countries. They allow excess power, such as that generated from wind or solar farms, to be traded and shared between countries. This ensures renewable energy isn’t wasted and makes for a greener, more efficient power system.

A new generation of interconnectors

Our initiative with TenneT looks to create a new generation of ‘multi-purpose’ interconnector (MPI). Existing ‘point to point’ interconnectors run directly from one location in one country to another, while individual wind farms have to connect one-by-one to the shore. An MPI will let clusters of wind farms connect directly with the interconnector itself, acting as a green energy hub.

A range of benefits

By connecting wind farms to interconnectors in this way, we can accelerate the development of offshore wind and maximise the use of renewable generation but minimise the amount of connections needed. This means we can reduce the impact on coastal communities.

Up and running by the end of the decade

For now, we’re working together to look into the feasibility of the project, with a view to having a new MPI up and running by the end of the decade.

“This agreement allows us to work with National Grid in the North Sea, to develop innovative infrastructure that uses every spare electron of offshore generation to reach our decarbonisation targets,” says Manon van Beek, CEO of TenneT.

“Multi-Purpose Interconnectors have the potential to act as a key enabler for new offshore wind projects and we’re delighted to be partnering once again with TenneT, to deliver an innovative vision to help realise the full green energy potential of the North Sea,” explains Jon Butterworth, Managing Director of National Grid Ventures.

Find out more about multi-purpose interconnectors