Windfarm plans unveiled

The government has given Britain’s offshore windfarm programme a boost as details were announced of how their connection to the onshore electricity network would be funded and operated.

Following a joint consultation with Ofgem, the Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, has extended the existing principles of onshore electricity transmission to offshore.

Wicks said, “This is an important step for Britain’s offshore wind energy industry as the measures I am announcing will increase its viability by spreading grid connection costs over a number of years.”

He went on to say, “We are aiming for 10% of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2010 and windfarm projects such as those planned for the Greater Wash, off the North West coast and in the Thames Estuary can potentially make a significant contribution to that target.”

These planned projects alone have the potential to produce between 5.4 and 7.2 Gigawatts, which is enough electricity for more than one in six UK households.

The regulatory framework can also benefit the future development of wave and tidal marine technologies.

Whilst the majority of the costs of building the offshore connections will ultimately be met by wind developers, they will be staggered over several years and will be funded by a regulated rate of return, as yet undetermined, which is likely to be lower than the market rate.