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UK Accelerates Approval Of Grid Investments To Boost Offshore Wind Capacity

The UK is accelerating the timeline for approval of new power transmission lines and networks as part of the country’s goal to connect up to 50 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind generation to the electricity network by 2030.

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), the energy market regulator, said that the ambitious offshore wind targets will need “significant reinforcements to the onshore electricity transmission network and a change to the current regulatory framework in order to accelerate delivery of large projects.”   

On Thursday, the regulator published a new Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment (ASTI) regulatory framework to fund the large strategic onshore transmission projects required to deliver the UK Government’s 2030 ambitions. 

The decision means that the UK will streamline the regulatory approval and funding process by reducing the number of regulatory assessment stages and allowing the transmission owners (TOs) earlier access to project funding in order to accelerate the delivery of projects.

The ASTI framework will initially apply to around £20 billion of onshore transmission network investment with the potential for further investment in the future, as the UK looks to decarbonize its energy sector and pivot away from reliance on fossil fuels.

Currently, a large portion of the UK’s electricity generation comes from natural gas, which generates most of the power in Britain when wind speeds are low.

SSEN Transmission, one of the large UK transmission owners, welcomed the regulator’s decision to accelerate grid investments, with Managing Director Rob McDonald saying, “Accelerating the development and delivery of the strategic electricity transmission infrastructure required to enable the deployment of homegrown and affordable, low carbon power, is arguably the most important enabler to securing the UK’s future energy security and net zero ambitions.”

Last month, Ofgem approved investments of $27.3 billion (£22.2 billion) by 2028 by six electricity distribution network companies, covering fourteen local networks in the UK, to make the local grids more resilient and host growing shares of renewable electricity.

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The companies will invest the funding “to help deliver cheaper, cleaner, more reliable local grids at no extra cost to consumers,” Ofgem said in November.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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