Thursday, 20 January 2011

Government double-talk on offshore supergrids undermined by OFGEM

Government claims to be supporting the EU supergid concept are undermined by the actions of its own agencies. OFGEM is actually refusing to sanction proposals made by the National Grid to build even a small part of such a supergrid, saying instead that individual offshore windfarm projects should connect to the grid by themselves, not through any 'supergrid'. OFGEM is the 'Office of Electricity and Gas Management', the energy regulators. Essentially OFGEM are providing evidence for what a lot of us fear - that the Government is really more interested in building nuclear power stations than funding much offshore wind. When I say 'Government' I mean the Conservatives and the Treasury where the real decisions about funding are being made. Chris Huhne means well, but may not, in reality, be able to ensure that much of Round 3  of the offshore windfarm programme actually gets built.

OFGEM is saying that Round 3 offshore windfarm operators should not connect into a transmission network that connects different windfarms into an international electricity transmission network because the other offshore windfarms may not get built, thus  leaving the investment in networks that could connect into a supergrid as 'stranded capital'. In effect OFGEM is implicitly undermining confidence in the Government's claims to be supporting real progress towards a European supergrid as stated in the press releases issued by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Indeed OFGEM has, in the past (and I assume still holds this position), been a keen supporter of the type of  'auction' proposals for issuing contracts for renewable energy capacity promoted by the Government's Electricity Market Reform proposals. These 'auction' proposals would, as discussed in previous entries of this blog, emasculate the UK renewable energy programme.

See story in 'Business Green' which gives the usual Government 'green hype' that we're sailing into an offshore windfarm future when in reality policy is facing in a very different direction.

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