More centralised planning is needed to manage the connection of renewable energy projects to the National Grid, claims a leading offshore developer.
David Hodkinson, Technip Offshore Wind’s vice president for UK business delivery, told Energy Voice it was time the government played a larger role in planning how and where offshore wind projects are developed.
He warns the current electricity network is in danger of not being able to service the country’s future energy needs.
“What is needed is to break away from the idea that the market will drive decisions and get the state responsible for masterplanning and getting industry to deliver,” said Mr Hodkinson at the Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference in Aberdeen today.
He said a strategy should be developed to ensure the appropriate infrastructure – grid connection and energy storage facilities – is in place to ensure wind projects are built in the places with the best wind resource.
“We are in a situation of building windfarms inland in areas of very low wind when that infrastructure could be built elsewhere,” said Mr Hodkinson.
“Issues around storage and where to generate and put the assets should be controlled centrally.”
National Grid electricity portfolio manager Ross McGhin said: “Centralised planning flies in the face of everything we have done post-privatisation.”
He said the country’s electricity network had been “sweated” by a market-driven approach to where energy generators have been located.
“The market has decided where it wants to locate new plants and our assets have been asked to connect that plant and be able to react to these markets, rather than someone to sit down with a plan and decide what goes where,” said Mr McGhin.
“We need clarity and direction from both the market and centralised strategy going forward as to what the overall solution for the country is.”
He admitted Scotland’s energy network had been stretched in recent years as a result of the large uptake in renewable energy schemes.
“We are finding with all this new generation is that it’s all at the extremities of the network,” said Mr McGhin.