The Dutch government has the ambition to be climate neutral by 2050. An important pillar to realizing this ambition is to place large numbers of wind turbines in the North Sea. The Dutch cabinet decided in 2022 to realize around 21 GW offshore wind capacity in 2030, but the offshore wind demand in the Netherlands after 2030 remains uncertain. Estimations of the future offshore wind range from 38 GW to 72 GW in 2050. The upper bound of 72 GW offshore wind capacity is based on the technical potential of offshore wind in the Dutch part of the North Sea. However, this approach does not take a holistic approach to the energy system. It ignores essential system aspects such as the development of electricity demand, electricity trade, and the deployment of other low-carbon energy technologies. Hence, this thesis aims to answer the following main research question:
‘What is the Dutch demand for offshore wind capacity in the North Sea in 2040 in a decarbonized energy system, considering future electricity demand, electricity trade, and security of supply?’
This research consists of two parts. First, the factors influencing future electricity demand in the Netherlands are examined, and estimations of energy supply in the Netherlands are analyzed. Electricity supply and demand in 2040 are studied by analyzing scenario studies that study the energy transition of the Netherlands. Special attention has been given to the influence of heat pumps in the built environment, electric vehicles in transportation, electrification in industry, and green hydrogen production on the evolution of electricity demand.
Second, the optimal system configurations of the North Sea countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) are analyzed using the PyPSA-Eur model. Twenty-five scenarios are run with net-zero emission targets in 2040, illustrating
the energy system effects. Relevant parameters varied to produce the scenarios include electricity demand in the Netherlands and bordering countries of the Netherlands, transmission system expansion, capital costs of generation and storage technologies, capacities of nuclear power, onshore and offshore wind power, and solar power in the system.
In conclusion, the results of the scenario analysis show that without hydrogen production, the electricity demand of the Netherlands in a highly decarbonized energy system ranges from 177 TWh to 270 TWh. In contrast, electricity demand, including hydrogen, ranges from 177 TWh to 562 TWh. Hence, electrification in
the built environment, agriculture, transport, and industry creates sufficient electricity demand for the lower bound of 38 GW offshore wind capacity. It is unlikely that sufficient demand can be created for the higher bound of 72 GW offshore wind capacity without green hydrogen production in the Netherlands, even if offshore wind power will become the dominant energy generation technology in the Netherlands in 2040.
From the modeling results, it was found that the optimal amount of offshore wind capacity in the Netherlands is negatively impacted by the capacity of other low-carbon energy technologies in the Netherlands and in bordering countries of the Netherlands. Higher electricity demand in bordering countries of the Netherlands positively impacts the optimal capacity of offshore wind in the Netherlands due to its influence on electricity trade. Further, constraining the transmission system expansion leads to higher energy storage requirements in a highly decarbonized energy system, which leads to higher offshore wind capacity in the cost-optimized system. Hence, this research highlights that choices have to be made about the role of the Netherlands as an electricity importer or exporter and whether the Netherlands aims to use its renewable energy to produce green hydrogen domestically or import hydrogen from abroad.