Offshore Transmission Network Review

A grid connection is a key requirement for each offshore wind farm as it needs to be able to deliver the power it generates to the national transmission network.

In 2020, the Committee on Climate Change asked the government to: Develop a strategy to coordinate interconnectors and offshore networks for wind farms and their connections to the onshore network and bring forward any legislation necessary to enable coordination.

The review, called the Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR), aims to bring together the key stakeholders involved in the timing, siting, design and delivery of offshore wind to consider the existing regime and how this influences the design and delivery of transmission infrastructure. Its overall aim is to ensure that the transmission connections for offshore wind generation are delivered in the most appropriate way, considering the increased ambition for offshore wind to achieve net zero. This will be done with a view to finding the appropriate balance between environmental, social and economic costs.

It is looking at this complex issue in three timeframes.

  1. Finding tactical near-term actions

  2. Looking for early opportunities for project coordination in the short- to medium-term, and

  3. Carrying out a longer-term strategic review to develop a new regime that can ensure a more coordinated approach for the future.

Offshore Transmission Network Review

Project coordination

An early to short-term part of the OTNR has been the encouragement of well-advanced projects to opt-in to become what is called Pathfinders. The Pathfinder concept was created for these advanced projects to provide important learnings for future projects, inform the design of the new regulatory framework and maximise benefits for consumers, local communities, and the environment.

These projects will progress under the existing regime but with greater collaboration, and while addressing the existing policy and regulatory barriers to increased network coordination.

While not nominated as Pathfinders at this stage, North Falls along with four other projects in East Anglia: Five Estuaries, National Grid Electricity Transmission's Sea Link, and National Grid Ventures' EuroLink and Nautilus have committed to exploring coordinated network designs with a view to identifying a Pathfinder project. In the meantime, North Falls is continuing to progress the development of its offshore wind farm and grid connection aligned to the current regulatory regime. This approach aims to ensure that North Falls will be operational by 2030, contributing to the 50GW government target.

Photo of Shingle Beach

Joint statement on commitment to exploring coordinated network designs in East Anglia (July 2022):

"Onshore and offshore energy infrastructure are critical to delivering on the ambition for the UK to be Net Zero by 2050. As responsible developers, owners and operators of renewable generation and transmission infrastructure, we strongly support the government’s ambition to make the UK the world leader in offshore wind. Delivering government ambitions of 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 will create green skilled jobs, strengthen UK security of supply, provide clean renewable power to fight climate change and help to reduce energy bills for British consumers.

National Grid Electricity Transmission (Sea Link), National Grid Ventures (Nautilus and EuroLink), North Falls (offshore wind farm) and Five Estuaries (offshore wind farm) are working together and exploring the potential for offshore coordination as part of the Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR) “Early Opportunities” workstream, with a view to identifying a future Pathfinder Project.

Offshore coordination of these projects could reduce, but not avoid, the need for coastal onshore infrastructure in east Suffolk and southern East Anglia and significant reinforcement of onshore infrastructure, such as the East Anglia Green project, is key to enabling a clean low carbon future irrespective of where energy comes ashore.

Whilst we welcome the progress the OTNR has made and recent publications from BEIS and the energy regulator, Ofgem, on enabling regulatory and policy changes, currently, the detailed commercial, regulatory and legislative frameworks needed to realise offshore coordination are not yet fully in place. We are working with the Government and Ofgem as they continue to progress the changes needed to enable greater coordination between these projects. So as not to impact the Government's 2030 offshore wind ambition, we continue to progress, in parallel, consent for grid infrastructure projects based on the existing regime."

North Falls,
Five Estuaries,
National Grid

View quote here

Strategic review

In the medium to longer-term, the Government together with National Grid ESO is looking to develop a single, integrated network design that supports the large-scale delivery of offshore wind energy across Great Britain. Published in July 2022, the Pathway to 2030 Holistic Network Design (HND) aims to facilitate the connection of 23GW wind, helping to deliver the Government's ambition for 50GW offshore wind by 2030.

This is a first step towards more centralised, strategic network planning that is critical for delivering affordable, clean and secure power, as we journey towards our net zero future. It should be noted that East Anglia was not included in this HND due to the fact the various offshore wind farm projects are already advanced.

North Falls grid connection

As with all offshore wind farms, North Falls will require a grid connection point to export the power it generates to the national grid - the UK's high voltage electricity system. In 2019, North Falls specified what it needed in terms of a grid connection to the National Grid. The National Grid owns the national grid, and it is their responsibility to connect new sources of electricity to the grid, installing additional infrastructure at existing substation sites or constructing new substations as required.

A grid connection in Tendring, Essex has been offered to North Falls by the National Grid. Our engineering design, survey and planning work to date has been undertaken in relation to this grid connection and this consultation will seek your views on the outputs of that work.

In parallel, North Falls has committed to working with other projects in East Anglia to determine if there are opportunities to coordinate network designs (see joint statement). For the purposes of this consultation, we are eager to hear views on our current proposals based on the existing connection option in Tendring, Essex. It is possible that this will be the route the project takes forward in our application, so we encourage you to provide specific comments on the proposals in this consultation, rather than referring only to a preference for an alternative solution, which may not be feasible.

Coordination with Five Estuaries

The agreement to explore grid-related opportunities was formalised in a statement published in July 2022 as part of the Offshore Transmission Network Review. North Falls and the proposed neighbouring offshore wind farm, Five Estuaries, are already working together on key onshore elements such as the route of the corridors for the underground cable, surveys and by sharing consultation feedback.