Connecting Offshore Wind to the National Grid

The licensing regime aims to deliver cheaper connections for offshore wind farms to the onshore grid. Photo courtesy of Elsam A/S.

The development of the UK's pioneering offshore wind energy sector continues apace as details were announced last month of the licensing regime for would be electricity transmission owners. 

After a joint consultation the Governments Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) has decided in agreement with regulator Ofgem that Britain's monopoly electricity transmission network owners will have the opportunity to compete against a wider range of transmission companies to build, own and maintain the links.

The aim is for this 'non-exclusive' system to deliver cheaper and more timely connections from offshore wind farms to the onshore grid, while encouraging innovation through competition and enabling new entrants to compete in the market.

The two options consulted on were:

1. A non-exclusive system allowing competition between many licensed transmission owners to provide specific offshore grid connections.

2. An exclusive system - tendering for a number of different offshore regions where a single transmission owner provides grid connections.

. UK Energy Minister Lord Truscott said, 'Offshore wind energy can make a significant contribution to the UK's renewable energy targets. Along with Denmark we are currently leading the world in the offshore sector and we want to keep the momentum going. In the last few months alone the Government has consented three major projects in the Thames Estuary and there will be more to come. The DTI and Ofgem are working closely to put in place a flexible and economic system for getting these vital energy schemes connected up to the mainland.'

David Gray, Ofgem's Managing Director for Networks added, 'Ofgem welcomes and fully supports the competitive approach being introduced offshore. Introducing competition in transmission will benefit consumers and offshore renewable generators by putting downward pressure on prices and delivery times. We are keen to encourage effective competition and would therefore be interested in hearing from serious parties interested in developing these links.'

Ofgem's scoping document, to be published imminently, will set out work that needs to be completed to establish the offshore transmission regime. This includes designing the tender process, developing the connection application process to cover offshore transmission and advancing the associated implementation issues.

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