Skip to main content

Offshore Transmission Network: Holistic Network Design and Pathfinder Projects

Volume 717: debated on Thursday 7 July 2022

Today marks a significant milestone for the offshore transmission network review and the British energy security strategy, with the publication of the first major deliverable—the holistic network design, developed by National Grid Electricity System Operator. The full holistic network design and supporting documents and maps can be found at: https://www.nationalgrideso.com/future-energy/the-pathway-2030-holistic-network-design.

The UK Government launched the OTNR in 2020 to improve the delivery of transmission connections for offshore wind. Considering the increasingly ambitious targets for offshore wind deployment, the current approach of delivering individual links for each wind farm is no longer fit for purpose and will not deliver the best outcomes for consumers, the environment or local communities.

More recently, the British energy security strategy set out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills. This included an ambition for 50GW of offshore wind by 2030.

Holistic network design

Developing the GB network in a timely way is vital. Without it we will waste a significant volume of cheap, green electricity. This will require more network infrastructure than today, both onshore and offshore, but through an upfront, strategic approach to network planning we will ensure that new network infrastructure is minimised, and where it cannot be avoided, it is brought forward in the most appropriate place.

The first step to this new innovative approach is the holistic network design, which has been published on 7 July by National Grid ESO. The HND represents a significant shift in how network infrastructure is planned. It is a first of a kind strategic network design for the upgraded and new onshore and offshore network infrastructure needed to connect 18 offshore wind farms. This will provide the network infrastructure needed to meet our ambition of delivering 50GW of offshore wind by 2030.

The holistic network design, for the first time balances economic factors with consideration of environmental and community impacts. It sets out the need for this infrastructure, not a detailed project plan. No decisions have yet been taken on the route for the network, or how best to do this. All projects that come forward as a result of the HND will be subject to the relevant democratic planning processes. These will ensure local stakeholders get their say on developments and impacts are mitigated as far as possible.

Pathfinder projects

Alongside improving strategic network planning for 2030 and beyond, we are also facilitating innovation for well-advanced projects connecting ahead of 2030. Today, four initial pathfinder projects are being announced—in Norfolk, Aberdeen and South Yorkshire. These projects have voluntarily opted in to utilise changes made under the OTNR to increase network co-ordination and maximise the benefits for consumers, communities, and the environment. NGESO will continue working with developers to progress these projects.

Five projects off the coast of East Anglia have today confirmed their commitment to exploring co-ordinated network designs, with a view to identifying future pathfinder projects. Further information on these announcements can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/offshore-transmission-network-review.

[HCWS190]