Review into infrastructure of offshore energy supply
THE energy minister has ordered a review into the legal framework for building offshore energy infrastructure in order to make it easier to roll out wind turbines across the country.
Britain’s current approach to the transmission of electricity from offshore wind to onshore power stations was developed when the sector was still in its infancy and has created numerous issues as the industry has blossomed in recent years.
Project developers are currently responsible for building the required cables to transfer the power their wind turbines generate. But this approach may be inefficient as Britain seeks to ramp up its renewable energy production ahead of 2050 – the date by which it has pledged to have substantially reduced its carbon emissions.
Issues have abounded with the UK’s offshore electricity transmission in recent years. Millions of British households missed out on clean energy generated by strong winds in January because a crucial undersea cable stopped working, and record levels of power created by wind farms in Scotland could not be piped to heavily populated parts of England due to faults with the Western HVDC Link, a network of underwater cables that runs down the UK west coast.
As a result, the farms were told to produce less energy to avoid overloading nearby areas. The National Grid must now pay them more than £30m in compensation – a bill that will ultimately be footed by consumers.
“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,” the Government said in a statement announcing the review.
The review, launched by minister Kwasi Kwarteng at a roundtable meeting of MPs, will bring together the likes of energy watchdog Ofgem, and representatives of the Royal family’s Crown Estate, which owns the seabed for up to 12 nautical miles around the UK.