Citizens Advice response to BEIS consultation: Offshore Transmission Network Review: proposals for an enduring regime and multi-purpose interconnectors
We support the objectives of this consultation to move towards a network and generation development process that reflects the offshore wind industry's growing maturity and the scale of development required to meet the government's generation targets that support Net Zero.
Our interest in this review is in ensuring that cost-efficient offshore wind projects, that are also environmentally and socially considerate, are progressed to support the delivery of Net Zero through the decarbonisation of energy generation. This requires mitigating the potential risks of coordinated delivery of offshore wind. This includes inefficient, inconsistent or otherwise problematic tendering processes, poor clarity or confidence in system development or from attaining sub-optimal network design or non-delivery of projects.
We think an enduring solution should increase the efficiency and the transparency of planning development processes to benefit engagement with local communities. This in turn supports the deliverability of cost-efficient network developments for energy consumers.
To achieve these outcomes we favour:
- A broadly encompassing strategic plan and Holistic Network Design (HND)
- The optimal clarity of long term network design and price signals to developers
- A coordination model similar to (2B) that combines the leasing, planning and subsidies into a single tender process.
- Reform of the planning process to support better local community engagement in the development of tendering.
- The current regional monopoly TNOs use their position and expertise to support the early development of network design and planning, then act as the default developer of offshore transmission outlined in the HND.
We also think that there is also significant value for early competition that can challenge the HND and offer an alternative network development design. This stops the HND from becoming a barrier to innovation and enabling different business models that utilise the benefits of coordinated network planning.