Re­view into in­fra­struc­ture of off­shore en­ergy sup­ply

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Ed Clowes

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.

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