Photo: Illustration/Tidal energy array featuring Tocardo tidal turbines (Courtesy of Tocardo)

DNV lists all potential benefits of marine energy for Dutch power system

Several parties can benefit from the development and integration of marine energy technologies in the Dutch energy mix, as they may play a role in bulk power generation, balancing of the grid, and the optimization of generation portfolios, according to certification group DNV.

Illustration/Tidal energy array featuring Tocardo tidal turbines (Courtesy of Tocardo)
Illustration/Tidal energy array featuring Tocardo tidal turbines (Courtesy of Tocardo)

DNV has released a paper, commissioned by the Dutch Marine Energy Centre (DMEC), which provides an overview of the most promising marine energy technologies for the Dutch North Sea and highlights the potential benefits for the Dutch energy systems and the stakeholders involved.

According to the paper, wave energy and tidal energy are currently the most promising technologies to harness the power of the North Sea, whereas salinity gradient technologies may be used in any body of water with a difference in salt concentration, such as in river mouths, where fresh water is discharged at sea, or where the water of the IJsselmeer connects with the Waddenzee.

If co-located with offshore wind farms, marine energy technologies can enable a more efficient use of transmission capacity and a multifunctional use of space at sea, DNV states.

This could also bring benefits to wind stakeholders as they can optimize their portfolio and hedge their market risks by using marine energy technologies for providing balancing services and by capturing price peaks at moments when the wind does not blow, generating a more diversified and steadier source of income.

The potential for both tidal and wave energy could be larger if considering other infrastructures like oil and gas platforms and coastal defense works as well, DNV states.

The development of marine energy may also contribute to other purposes that lay outside the scope of the paper, DNV said, such as creating job and export opportunities for the Dutch offshore and maritime sector, as well as potentially contributing to coastal and river protection projects.

Challenges of integrating marine technologies into energy mix

Illustration/SeaQurrent's Tidal Kite device (Courtesy of SeaQurrent)
Illustration/SeaQurrent’s Tidal Kite device (Courtesy of SeaQurrent)

As grid connections for offshore marine energy are not catered for by society through Transmission System Operator (TSO) investments – as with offshore wind, the additionally required infrastructure investments to connect marine technologies are an important cost challenge as well for investors in these technologies, DNV has pointed out.

Yet, if co-location of marine technologies within offshore wind areas is proven possible and cable pooling is permitted, salinity gradient energy, tidal range and current energy, and wave energy can improve their economic and technical feasibility and start to contribute to the national energy mix between 2030 and 2050, DNV predicts.

Therefore, it is important that marine energy technologies are not overlooked by developers, policy makers and parties in search of synergies between options that can help to meet sustainability targets and improve coastal protection.

“To achieve the Netherlands’ bold climate goals, all available resources must be evaluated and utilized. In ‘Nederland Waterland’ marine energy may contribute as both bulk generation and balancing of the grid from a societal perspective and help to optimize portfolio revenues for wind farm owners”, the paper reads.

Therefore, the role of marine energy technologies should be clearly defined and integrated within the national renewable policy, considering their potential contribution the need for multifunctional use of space and infrastructure as stressed in the Draft North Sea Programme 2022-2027, the certification group suggests.

“Including marine energy more explicitly in national subsidy schemes could be a way to support and accelerate its commercial development and to reduce the risk of investments”, it is stated in the paper.

Further studies, eventually followed by pilot and demonstration projects, are also required to investigate and address the uncertainties in marine energy potential and the environmental implications of large-scale marine energy systems.

Likewise, including marine energy more explicitly in national subsidy schemes could be a way to support and accelerate its commercial development and to reduce the risk of investments, DNV concludes.