Belgium has the ambition to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050. However, the limited space at sea and on land is an important obstacle in realising these ambitions. That is why we have to look more and more across borders. The CORDOBA project is a fine example of international cooperation to realise the energy transition.
In order to achieve the Belgian ambitions, federal Minister of Energy Tinne Van der Straeten has ordered a study on the feasability of the installation of a submarine electric interconnector between Belgium and Denmark. Prior to this, Elia had also announced a new hybrid interconnector with the UK.
Hybrid interconnectors makes a connection with (offshore) renewable energy and other countries. Similar connections are very important to the Belgian energy transition, because they allow us to access new markets and additionnal sources of renewable energy.
In order to enable the construction of submarine electric interconnectors in a cost-effective, holistic and sustainable way, there are a few challenges left to conquer. That is why we're working together with De Blauwe Cluster and Flux50 on the intercluster project CORDOBA.
The further expansion of offshore wind farms is a crucial part of the European energy transition, which includes a growth of the capacity of offshore wind in Europe to 450 GW by 2050. This means an increase of a factor of 20 compared to the current installed capacity.
All that generated electrical energy must of course also come ashore. At the moment, this is primarily done via direct connections from the individual wind farms to land. However, wind farms are growing in number and size and are increasingly connected with each other and with other countries.
To make these hybrid offshore connections possible, there is a need for a more integrated and cross-border approach. With the CORDOBA project, companies Elicio, Marlinks, Yuso and Enersynt, in collaboration with EnergyVille / KU Leuven, want to provide supporting decision tools and operational models.
Many stakeholders are involved in realising the hybrid connections. Moreover, interactions in the energy market happen in a very complex way. This increases the risk for potential investors to achieve hybrid connections.
The current tools to technically design and analyse hybrid connections prove inadequate, because they are based on the current radial direct connections to the mainland. Hybrid connections are much more complex and at the moment little or no use is made of advanced decision tools.
Within the framework of the CORDOBA project, we're searching for answers, in cooperation with project partners De Blauwe Cluster and Flux50. We have outlined three main targets to tackle these problems:
- developing an optimisation model to design offshore grids;
- create a coordinated operational model for hybrid offshore connections;
- draw up a model for investement participation and remuneration.
These models are also validated in different test cases.
The CORDOBA project aims to enlarge the insights in, and knowledge of, offshore hybrid grids. At the same time, we want to develop the required calculation instruments and models for planning operating and investing in hybrid offshore systems. That way, we can offer industrial partners the opportunity to tap into new markets worldwide.
The project was launched in January 2021. Results will be presented by 2023.