Offshore wind connections: Kwarteng kicks off review promising to remove ‘major barrier’

The form of a new enduring regime for offshore transmission should be clear in 2021, according to energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng MP, after he announced the terms of reference for a review of the current regime.

Offshore wind developers have been united in calling for a more co-ordinated approach that would see investment in shared facilities call a halt to individual point to point connections for each wind farm.

Kwarteng said the current approach was developed when offshore wind was a nascent sector and industry expectations were “as low as 10GW by 2030”. Leaving the project developers in control of building the associated transmission assets was considered to de-risk investment. But that approach could now be a major barrier.

The review will bring together stakeholders involved in the timing, siting, design and delivery of offshore wind. Its terms of reference focus on identifying tactical near-term actions that can be taken and early opportunities for coordination for projects in the short- to medium-term, plus a longer-term strategic review to develop a new regime that can ensure a more coordinated approach for the future.

The review, led by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), will have two main workstreams:

  • identify and implement changes to the existing regime to facilitate coordination in the short-medium term, including centrally delivered infrastructure that would bring forward more offshore wind by 2030 (although it will focus on wind farms coming onstream after 2025).
  • conduct a holistic review of the current offshore transmission regime and design and implement a new enduring regime that enables and incentivises coordination. That includes possible multi-purpose hybrid interconnectors, combining offshore wind connections with links to neighbouring markets. This will focus on projects expected to connect to the onshore network after 2030.

The minister promised an update on the review this year, with a view to providing clarity for an enduring approach in 2021.