Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 82

Supplementary memorandum from the Renewable Energy Association


Is a "point-to-point" system appropriate for an expanded offshore wind regime?

  A study by the DTI Centre for Distributed Generation and Sustainable Electrical Energy, prepared by Predrag Djapic and Goran Strbac[267] concluded that economic and efficient offshore networks for wind energy should be designed with no redundancy, as the cost of the cables and their installation is the dominant factor in network design. However, this was in the context of the much more limited scenario of 8 GW of Round 1 and 2 windfarms, not the 25GW suggested in the BERR's December announcement.

  Airtricity proposes a supergrid to integrate the functionality of interconnectors between countries with transmission for offshore wind farms. It suggests that when offshore wind farms reach distances of 60—70km from the onshore grid it becomes more cost effective to connect them to interconnectors.

  This suggests that there are merits in an offshore grid approach for the longer term. This should prove more flexible and lend itself to the more strategic approach to grid development that many are advocating (ie let's not wait and see what projects come forward—let's plan ahead).

  It has taken a great deal of time to arrive at the proposals in place today, however, and there is still disagreement within the industry about the best approach. It is undesirable for uncertainty over the developing offshore transmission arrangements to destabilise the already fragile investment environment for offshore wind farms.

Should the IPC only decide on marine projects with a capacity of 100 MW plus?

  At the very least we would prefer to see the threshold for IPC decision making on offshore projects to be brought down to 50MW—thereby harmonising the threshold for onshore and offshore projects.

  We would ideally like to see the IPC being adequately resourced with the manpower and skill set to deal with all major energy projects. If that were the case it would become the most suitable body for consenting a broad range of renewables applications and we would like to see it dealing with most projects above a de minimis limit. We feel that 50MW is higher than ideal for the de minimis limit, but recognise that this is unlikely to change. The vast bulk of consenting will therefore be undertaken under the Town and Country Planning Regime. The REA is focussing its efforts on seeking to ensure that the IPC's guidance—the National Policy Statement on Renewable Energy—is made as useful to Local Authorities as possible. Admittedly this involves expecting it to fulfil a role that it was not envisaged to play, but we have had positive signs from BERR officials that they recognise the benefit of this approach.

April 2008

267 Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 19 June 2008