The UK electricity regulator has this week launched a tender for offshore wind farm grid connections. The move takes the UK’s offshore wind energy ambitions a step further towards delivery.

Transmission links to 2.8 Gigawatts of offshore wind farms are to be put out to competitive tender with the winning bidders to be announced in summer next year.

The Ofgem tender is the second tender round for offshore wind farm high voltage transmission links worth an estimated £1.9 billion (over US$ 3 billion). The tender is aimed at cost effectively incentivising the building of the necessary grid infrastructure to connect 6 UK offshore wind farms to the onshore grid network.

Companies will be bidding to own and operate the electricity cable links to the offshore wind farms. Ofgem say there was keen interest shown in the first round which saw £1.1. billion (US$ 1.75 bn) investement in offshore grid transmission links.

Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Charles Hendrey said: “We have 40% of Europe’s wind and we have 11,000 km of coastline. We ought to be using those resources for our future energy security, but to do this we need to get the investment in the infrastructure that will make this happen.

I hope the second round of tendering for owning and operating the links to offshore wind farms will be as successful as the first, where investment interest was four times the necessary level. This competition also means savings for generators and consumers which I very much welcome.

Ofgem’s CE Alistair Buchanan said “Britain needs to attract £200 billion of investement in its energy industry over the next 10 years – £20 billion will be for offshore tramsmission links. Therefore it is very encouraging that we have seen such strong competition for the first round of transmission links“.

The first offshore wind farms expected to be facilitated by this (second) grid network competition are Gwynt-y-Mor off the north Wales coast, Lincs and London Array off the east coast. These will be followed by Humber Gateway and Race Bank in the Wash and West of Duddon Sands, off the Lancashire coast.