UK Government setting the stage for offshore wind Multi-Purpose Interconnectors

The UK Government has announced its intention to establish future offshore wind Multi-Purpose Interconnectors (MPIs) which will provide a more efficient and environmentally friendly approach to integrating 50 GW of offshore wind capacity into the grid by 2030, and could also enable Britain to export excess wind energy to neighbouring countries.

The Government plans to strengthen legal and regulatory clarity over the licensing of future Multi-Purpose Interconnectors to enable a clearer roadmap to integrating renewable wind energy into the grid.

With an increased ambition to generate 50 GW of offshore wind by 2030, 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 given the considerable environmental and local impacts, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said.

BEIS noted that recent studies had shown that an increase in interconnector capacity upwards of 18 GW was needed to help the UK meet the 50 GW target and increase Great Britain’s security of supply.

“It is right that the framework was reviewed in the context of our increased ambition”, BEIS stated in a press release on 26 April.

Along with helping reduce barriers to offshore wind development, establishing a future generation of offshore connection hubs through combining offshore wind and electricity interconnectors will also bring down costs of projects and minimise impacts on local communities in the future, according to the UK Government.

“We recognise that there is currently a growing impact on the coastal communities which host offshore wind infrastructure. As we power up our plans to become more independent, with growing supply of clean energy, we need to minimise local impacts”, Energy Minister Greg Hands said.

“With the potential for huge savings, multi-purpose interconnectors could ease offshore wind development, by establishing a future generation of offshore connection hubs”.

BEIS will work with the independent regulator Ofgem on exploring the connection of clusters of offshore wind farms into one and directly into electricity interconnectors.

The UK Government announced its intention to work on establishing MPIs in its response to the Multi-Purpose Interconnector section of its Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR) that addressed the barriers for increasing the UK’s offshore capacity and integration into the grid, and considers how best to facilitate MPIs.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an increased target of up to 50 GW of operating offshore wind capacity by 2030 at the beginning of this month as part of a plan to boost Britain’s energy security.

To reach the offshore wind goal, the British Energy Security Strategy sets out new planning reforms to cut the approval times for new offshore wind farms from four years to one year and an overall streamlining which is expected to radically reduce the time it takes for new projects to reach construction stages.

According to the UK Government, its newly announced plan to strengthen legal and regulatory clarity for a licensing regime for Multi-Purpose Interconnectors provides more certainty to developers and will subsequently facilitate MPI projects in order to further boost long-term energy independence, security, and prosperity.