Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has launched a review into the way the existing offshore transmission regime is designed and delivered, consistent with the UK’s ambition to deliver net zero emissions by 2050.
The review will aim to address the barriers the current approach to designing and building offshore transmission presents to advance significant deployment of offshore wind across the country.
It was developed when offshore wind was a nascent sector and industry expectations were as low as 10GW by 2030 and designed to de-risk the delivery of offshore wind by leaving project developers in control of building the associated transmission assets to bring the energy onshore.
BEIS says the approach has contributed to the maturing of the sector and led to significant cost reductions of offshore wind energy.
However, it adds: “In the context of increasingly ambitious targets for offshore wind, constructing individual point to point connections for each offshore wind farm 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 it is right that the framework for delivering offshore transmission connections is reviewed in the context of our increased ambition.”
The review will bring together key stakeholders involved in the timing, siting, design and delivery of offshore wind to consider all aspects of the existing regime and how this influences the design and delivery of transmission infrastructure.
Fintan Slye, Executive Director of the Electricity System Operator (ESO) said: “Assessing the most beneficial approach to offshore connections will be vital to offshore wind reaching its potential to facilitate net zero in a way that minimises the impact on consumers and coastal communities. We are very supportive of taking forward this important project, in which we look forward to playing our part.
“We are currently carrying out a project to assess the costs and benefits of different coordinated offshore network designs and the technology available to deliver them. We are also assessing whether changes could be made to the offshore connections regime to encourage more coordination and whether there is a role for us to remove some of the other barriers to a more coordinated approach, such as in technical and commercial network codes and standards.”
An update is expected to be published by the end of the year, with policy recommendations and proposed changes to the existing regime to be delivered through the usual consultation process.