North Sea + Energy

2050 - An Energetic Odyssey

2050 - An Energetic Odyssey is a research by design on the possibilities, opportunities, and spatial implications of the realisation of large-scale harvesting, transportation and storage of renewable energy sources on and around the North Sea. This project demonstrates the role the North Sea could play in meeting the globally agreed two-degree target.


Europe has committed to reducing green house gas emissions by 2050 by 80-95%. Commissioned by the IABR2016, H+N+S made a plan for the North Sea together with Ecofys & Tungsten Pro, in which renewable energy sources are utilised . This plan outlines how that might look in practical terms and what the effects might be for nature, fishery, harbour development, economies, and recreation.

European climate targets will require substantial system changes

The European climate targets – 80 to 95 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 compared to 1990 – will require substantial system changes. An Energetic Odyssey shows how far-reaching the energy transition from fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas to an energy supply largely fed by renewable energy sources actually is. It is a (spatial) task that is still largely underestimated.


This project was developed in a public-private partnership with, among others, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Van Oord , Shell, TenneT , Zeeland Seaports , European Climate Foundation , RWE, Nature and Environment, Port of Rotterdam and Amsterdam Port Authority.


On land, we will have to pull out all the stops in terms of energy saving, central and decentral initiatives with solar panels, wind, bio mass, geothermal heat, residual heat, and so on. Even when making a maximum effort, this will prove inadequate.

2050 – An Energetic Odyssey represents a system leap that makes it possible to bridge this gap by the very large-scale production of wind energy on the relatively shallow North Sea for the countries that surround it.

Exhibition IABR

The IABR–Atelier 2050 demonstrates what such an ambitious approach involves, what infrastructure it requires, what it means to link up with the nature of the North Sea, what role the entrepreneurial state plays, which innovations this requires, and especially which new economic dynamic this will generate, for instance in the offshore sector. Research by design will facilitate this transition of imaginaries.

The aim of the installation is to create a reference point for a broad dialogue between public and private parties and a new, appealing step towards the realization of large-scale production, transportation, and storage of renewable energy on and around the North Sea. Development perspectives are outlined on the basis of a robust future scenario.

Next economy

The title of the project, 2050 – An Energetic Odyssey, is meant to provoke. Many people underestimate the scale of the challenge and think that the transition can take place with the support of small-scale projects alone (small is beautiful). However, the goal agreed upon worldwide – to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees – also requires more large-scale and drastic changes of the system. The good news is that, in principle, the production of North Sea energy can meet the demand. 2050 – An Energetic Odyssey shows that the Next Economy can be a clean economy.


IABR with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Van Oord, Shell, TenneT, Zeeland Seaports, European Climate Foundation, Natuur & Milieu, RWE, Port of Rotterdam Authority and Port of Amsterdam. Research by design and animation by H+N+S Landscape Architects, Ecofys and Tungsten Pro.

More info

The project 2050 - An Energetic Odyssey is part of the IABR–2016–THE NEXT ECONOMY, the seventh edition of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, which takes place from April 23 to July 10, 2016, in the Fenixloods II, Paul Nijghkade 19, Katendrecht Rotterdam. In addition to this project, H+N+S was involved in two other projects too. More info on the IABR website.


Former employee Joppe Veul