Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

NWA - North Sea in Transition (NiT)

The coming decennia will mark a dramatic change in our North Sea, constituting more than 60% of the territory of The Netherlands. Driven by the need for an energy and food transition and bound by pressures from fisheries, shipping, oil, gas and sand extraction and marine protection, a balance between technology, economy and ecology in a complex system must be struck. Billions of Euros are going to be invested presenting a unique opportunity to create and exploit a healthy North Sea ecosystem by combining the major transitions: energy, food and nature. In this project we aim to integrate novel energy research with ecosystem, marine food and social research in a changing natural environment to establish an optimal transition pathway.


In a consortium with 83 partners from 42 organizations we will investigate the development and effects of floating solar panels and islands, wave converters and conversion of peak energy into useful fuels. We will assess whether the ecological carrying capacity of the North Sea system is sufficient to sustainably support multifunctional use of the Netherlands Continental Shelf, also in an international context. We will investigate the potential for new forms of food production including farming of lower trophic levels and optimization of traditional fisheries in a changing environment, including effects of climate change and plastic pollution. Our social, economic and legal research aims at a timely identification of potential hurdles for the transitions, and the development of strategies for ‘value creation’ in all three transitions. Special attention will be given to the topics in the Research Agenda of the North Sea Strategy 2030 of the Netherlands government.


This project addresses the game changers of the NWA ‘Blue Route’, water as source, water as blue pathway and living on water and matches the questions and broad aims of many other NWA routes.