The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem in the UK have issued an open letter calling for input of their review of the offshore transmission network, which was launched in July 2020
“We would particularly welcome views from those who are already pursuing some level of co-ordination or have identified an opportunity to do so, at a local, national or international level,” said BEIS.
“This could include considering anticipatory investment in one project to enable a future project, or combining offshore wind and interconnector assets.”
Ofgem and BEIS will use the information to capitalise on early opportunities that will deliver benefits for consumers and the wider energy system; and inform future policy development relating to an enduring regime for connections post 2030.
Earlier this year, UK Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng announced the scope of the review into the existing offshore transmission regime to address the barriers it presents to further significant deployment of offshore wind, with a view to achieving net zero ambitions.
The current approach to designing and building offshore transmission was developed when offshore wind was a nascent sector and industry expectations were as low as 10 GW by 2030. It was designed to de-risk the delivery of offshore wind by leaving the project developers in control of building the associated transmission assets to bring the energy onshore.
This approach has contributed to the maturing of the sector, the significant reduction in costs of offshore wind energy and has helped position the UK at the forefront of global offshore wind deployment.
However, in the context of increasingly ambitious targets for offshore wind, constructing individual point to point connections for each offshore windfarm may not provide the most efficient approach and could become a major barrier to delivery given the considerable environmental and local impacts, particularly from the associated onshore infrastructure required to connect to the national transmission network.
Offshore wind is expected to play an important role in delivering net-zero emissions by 2050, and the government therefore feels it is right that the framework for delivering offshore transmission connections is reviewed in the context of increased ambition.
In their 2020 report to Parliament, the Committee on Climate Change called for government to ‘Develop a strategy to co-ordinate interconnectors and offshore networks for windfarms and their connections to the onshore network and bring forward any legislation necessary to enable co-ordination’.