Ofgem has released a consultation on changes that aim to deliver greater coordination in the development of offshore energy networks.
Published on 14 July, the consultation falls under the Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR) and covers three of its four workstreams: early opportunities, pathways to 2030 and multi-purpose interconnectors. With 40GW of offshore wind targeted by 2030 and net zero by 2050, urgent reform is needed to address the barriers projects are facing in planning and consenting due to growing environmental and social impacts.
Furthermore, reform must avoid a hiatus in deploying offshore wind as the shift to a more coordinated approach unfolds, with Ofgem proposing different approaches across the near, medium and long-term timeframes, reflecting the challenges likely to be faced by projects at different stages in the development cycle.
For early opportunities, changes are being proposed to enable developers to make changes to coordinate projects that are already well-advanced in their development. This could be through leveraging flexibility within the existing regime or making changes with the current overall regulatory framework. Considering a pathway to 2030, with projects at an earlier stage of development, a different approach is being proposed, with Ofgem to support the ESO in developing a national blueprint that brings together the planning of onshore and offshore networks in a much more holistic way, better managing cumulative social and environmental impacts at the plan level, instead of project level.
On multi-purpose interconnectors (MPI), Ofgem is exploring the feasibility of using the existing regulatory regime to facilitate proposed MPI models for early coordination, with the impact of market arrangements, regulations in potential connecting countries and Trade and Cooperation Agreement on MPI model choice under consideration.
The consultation will close on 8 September 2021, with BEIS also set to publish a consultation on a future enduring regime for projects that connect past 2030 later this year.