Offshore grid coordination could save billions

In: CablesInterconnectorsWindfarms
As part of a government-led review of offshore connections for offshore renewable power and interconnectors, National Grid ESO (NG ESO) has shared the latest report and opened a consultation for its Offshore Coordination project.

This consultation examines whether a more integrated approach to the connection of offshore renewable power and interconnectors would be more beneficial – for consumers, coastal communities and the environment - than the current approach.

Analysis suggests that an integrated approach offshore could save consumers approximately £6 billion, or 18 per cent, in capital and operating expenditure between now and 2050. Savings are greatest (up to 30 per cent) where high levels of offshore wind need to be connected to parts of the onshore network already nearing operational limits, or where wind farms are located far from shore.

There are potentially significant environmental and social benefits, as the number of onshore and offshore assets, cables and onshore landing points could potentially be reduced by around 50 per cent, although some of these assets would be somewhat larger.

NG ESO stated that the majority of the technology required for the integrated design is available now or will be by 2030. However, a key component to release the full benefits of an integrated solution are HVDC circuit breakers. It stated that a targeted innovation strategy could help progress these assets to commercial use and establish the UK as a world leader in offshore grids.

Changes to the offshore connection regime will drive more coordination. These include reviewing the assessment process for the location of offshore connections (CION), investigating the packaging of connection offers with other elements such as seabed leases, and a review of where liabilities sit for offshore connections. 

Many projects due to connect ahead of 2030 will have connection agreements already in place and NG ESO will work with the relevant transmission system operators and developers to continue to progress on the basis of those agreements.

The deadline for consultation submissions is 28 October 2020, after which the ESO will review the evidence before submitting final reports to the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, as part of their wider Offshore Transmission Network Review. This wider review will then consider if changes to legislative and regulatory models are required to support a more integrated approach to offshore connections.

For more information on offshore wind farms and interconnector projects worldwide, click here.

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