The UK government wants to build between 11 and 18GW of offshore wind farm capacity by 2020 – currently the capacity stands at 1.6GW. These wind farms are likely to be substantially larger and further offshore than existing projects and Ofgem states in report published today that instead of building individual connections for each development, they could be interlinked to lower the overall construction and operating costs. This would mean the offshore network could grow incrementally and efficiently.
Ofgem claims this coordinated approach could reduce the cost of offshore connections by 8-15 per cent, help meet the government’s target of reducing the cost of offshore wind to GBP100 per megawatt hour by 2020 and also pave the way for an offshore network in the North Sea linking wind farms off Britain’s coast to other European countries.
Ofgem’s Robert Hull said: “Competitive tendering for the ownership of offshore power links is attracting new investment into the GB energy sector and saving customers money. We want to continue making savings, which is why coordinating links, where this can increase efficiency, is so important. We consider we can do this in a way that protects customers while providing stability and certainty for wind farm investors and prospective offshore transmission owners.”
The Ofgem report has the backing of UK energy minister Charles Hendry, who said: “Linking up power cables between offshore wind farms could make some serious savings, so we would be crazy not to encourage it. These cables could even be linked up to European projects, increasing opportunities for trading electricity.”