The head of the UK arm of Danish renewable developer Orsted has urged an end to the current “piecemeal” approach to the installation of offshore transmission infrastructure.
Managing director Matthew Wright said consideration should be given to creating a power grid in the North Sea to support the rapid expansion in offshore wind capacity over the next decade.
Speaking at the annual spring forum hosted by Aurora Energy Research, Wright alternatively suggested combining the transmission links for offshore windfarms with interconnectors.
“We’re going so far offshore now, why not carry on and connect to the next country?” he explained.
The government recently unveiled a new sector deal for offshore wind which included a commitment to increase installed capacity from 7.9GW currently to 30GW by 2030. Wright said “more and more people” now appreciate the “enormous scale” at which offshore wind can be deployed, particularly in the North Sea.
He additionally called for alignment between the lifespans of offshore windfarms and the length of contracts awarded under Ofgem’s offshore transmission owners (OFTO) regime.
Offshore windfarms are typically expected to be operational for 25 to 30 years. He said it is “a bit worrying” to have a “multi-billion-pound asset” connected under a contract which only lasts for 20 years.
Wright had earlier questioned the feasibility of building “subsidy-free” renewables at scale without some degree of revenue stabilisation.
He asked why ministers were reluctant to allow mature renewables such as onshore wind and solar to compete in Contracts for Difference auctions when the mechanism has been so effective at lowering costs.