New wind farms may only be built in areas designated for offshore wind energy. When looking for new locations for wind farms, the basic principle is to combine as many functions as possible. In this way, the available space is utilised in the best and most cost-effective way.
Although there is literally a sea of space on the North Sea, many activities are already taking place there – for example, shipping, fishing, oil and gas extraction, areas for Defence exercises, nature reserves and locations for sand extraction. In addition, the sea is unsuitable in some areas for wind turbines because it is too deep. Or because the locations are too far from the coast, which means that longer, expensive cables are necessary. Choosing the ultimate location for wind turbines is therefore a very precise process. It is important to examine factors such as affordability, energy yield and other aspects such as the effects on nature, oil and gas extraction, fishing, shipping and tourism.
Four areas have been designated for maritime wind energy, and one area still has to be formally designated.