North Sea Energy Lab Session 29th May 2018, during Blueweek, in collaboration with Periscope and Pilot table of the Northsea2030 policy process


  • The MVI North Sea Energy Lab started in October 2016, with the ambition to ‘keep all the lights on green’ for the development of the North Sea into a source of renewable energy.
  • A central conclusion of the lab is that steps need to be taken now towards an integral development of the North Sea. Only then, will we realize the necessary scale increase in renewable energy production, from 2030 onwards.
  • At the latest in 2050, we will use 20% of the Dutch EEZ surface for offshore wind farms. Nowadays, we only use <1%. From 2030 onwards, we need to realize at least 2,5 GW per year. This is an enormous challenge. The current speed of development is 0,7 GW per year.
  • The current mono-functional way of developing (an approach to allow new functions at the North Sea) has allowed for a drastic decrease in the cost prices of generating wind offshore. A fantastic achievement. The focus has been on realizing wind farms for the lowest possible cost, within a set of conditions.
  • Side effect of this mono-functional way of developing, is that it does not invite multi-use and value creation explicitly.
  • The next, necessary and wished for step, is to focus on value maximization, besides a focus on cost efficiency. By innovation at the threshold of energy, ecology and protein, a broader economic spectrum can be activated, through multiple value creation.
  • How to proceed? From a monofunctional to an integral way of developing.
  • One important way to do so is to start integral pilots and learn from them.

On May 29 a group of 80 people gathered to investigate:

  • A pilot on (financial) citizen participation in wind farms
  • A pilot on aquaculture and nature enhancement, in combination with offshore wind
  • A pilot on small-scale lobster and crab fishing in wind farm
  • What makes a (good) integral pilot?
  • How to strengthen North Sea Energy Lab pilots in the making?
  • How do we know if enough integral pilots are being set up in the proper way, to support the energy transition, protein transition, ecological transition, and ownership transition at the North Sea?
  • What do the integral pilots need in terms of support and how to organize for this support?

The session was kicked-off by Martine Verweij (programme leader MVI Energy), by showing a short movie about the importance of an interactive approach, to stimulate the integral development of the North Sea.

Main conclusions from the session – per question

Are enough integral pilots being set up? Insights:

  • A lot of good ideas are still looking for a place
  • Combination of multiple functions is rare
  • Especially pilots which combine fisheries and wind offshore, are rare
  • It would be interesting to have a better overview of international pilots
  • Some places function as 'hot spots' for pilots, e.g.: St Noordzeeboerderij, Texel/Terschelling
  • Most initiatives are nearshore; further away is more difficult
  • We need many pilots to learn and we need to learn on many dimensions

How to support integral pilots? Insights:

  • Focus on creating the right conditions
  • Monitoring is very costly
  • More innovation sites are necessary (a site for which safety is organized, monitoring and an electricity plug is in place)
  • We need a community of practice:
  • (a) Which is broad enough (not only focus on combination of wind offshore & other functions
  • (b) With an area agent (‘gebiedsmakelaar’) that helps pilot initiatives with basic preconditions such as ‘the boys requirement of 80 euro a day
  • (c) Ideally supported by: Pilot table NorthSea2030 – TKI WoZ – topsector Energy, Water & Agro-food
  • Tendency is to take the initiatives as a starting point to determine what support is needed – yet, some choices need to be made centrally – e.g.: will extensive forms of fisheries be allowed within wind farms
  • It is important to create shared targets: now – renewable energy targets are very clear (60GW in 2050), North Sea nature targets are not clear at all, and protein targets neither – Nature targets are too vague currently
  • An MMIP (multiple-year, mission driven innovation program) with clear energy, protein and nature targets would be helpful
  • It might be wise to focus on one primary function and see which other functions can be combined
  • Government can facilitate in minimizing risks, such as accountability, safet
  • Two types of investments related to pilots should ideally be paid for by the government:
  • (a) Monitoring
  • (b) Process money

To understand what makes a (good/successful) integral pilot the following sub-session took place:

An interview with George Wurpel and Sanne Tonneijck on ‘Platforms Naturally’ – A pilot that intended to investigate the potential of postponing with 15 years the decommissioning of an oil & gas platform and instead reinforcing the subsea natural ecosystems attached to the substrate of the platform. The session intended to find out what lessons were learned in this repurposing pilot project. What were the reasons for terminating the project and what can be improved in the future? You can find a short review of this session here.

To reinforce the pilots in the making of the North Sea Energy Lab, three sub-sessions took place:

Click on the link to find some impressions of each session.

To determine:

  • how do we know if enough integral pilots are being set up in the proper way?
  • what do the integral pilots need in terms of support and how to organize for this support?

... a plenary session took place with:

  • Ernst van Zuylen (Grow/TKI WoZ)
  • Marnix Krikke (Periscope)
  • Hans Hillebrand (Ministry of LNV, pilot table Northsea2030)

A detailed report of this session can be found here.

What’s next – what’s important?

  • The North Sea Energy Lab (NSE Lab) is in a natural process of crystallization and completion. The Blueweek Lab session was the last lab session as such. As a follow-up and on invitation by the TKI WoZ on June 13 a further conversation about integral pilots, was held during the Wind Days.
  • This summer the NSE Lab will harvest learnings from two years of lab process, which will be shared with those who participated actively, and those interested in the workings of the NSE Lab process (a social lab approach). Insights will also be shared with those involved in setting up a community of practice for multi-use of the North Sea.
  • Those responsible for the pilot table in the Northsea2030 policy process, intend to use the insights gathered in the final lab session, to further support integral pilots at sea. The session on May 29 highlighted the importance of both the creation of a good supporting infrastructure (‘community of practice’ and ‘project bureau’) for integral pilots at sea.
  • It is now clear, that a community of practice initiative will indeed be kickstarted, with support from different Ministries, RVO and the topsector energy (TKI WoZ and MVI-Energie). A first community of practice session is scheduled for September 18, 2018. Let us know if you’re interested in attending and remain informed of the exact set-up. Sign up here.
  • TKI WoZ intends to keep collaborating with a diversity of stakeholders to stimulate the integral development of energy, protein and ecology at sea.
  • The pilots in the making will proceed with their efforts to realize the pilots in a successful way and generate learnings.
  • The TKI WoZ innovation tender was open until June 5th on the theme of wind offshore and its surroundings. One NSE-lab pilot has applied for funding in the TKI WoZ tender.
  • Other pilots are considering to apply for funding in the MVI-Energy tender.
  • Within the MVI-Energy program an innovation tender is open until October 16th. This tender stimulates innovative consortia to start integral pilot projects. The innovation challenge that is posted is: how to realize offshore wind in such a way that the wind farm has options for multiple use, such as food production or other sources of renewable energy, so that the development of the park itself leads to ecological reinforcement and that different stakeholders at sea and land will feel connected with the wind offshore development? More information: MVI-Energie subsidieprogramma and MVI-Energie tender inhoud


Foto's: Maria Kolossa

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