U.K. Could Save $5.6 Billion by Linking Offshore Wind Farms

The U.K. could save as much as 3.5 billion pounds ($5.6 billion) by connecting offshore wind farms to each other, cutting down on construction and operating costs.

As much as 15 percent could be knocked off the estimated 24 billion-pound bill for building wind infrastructure, according to a joint statement today from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and energy regulator Ofgem.

The U.K. is seeking to have about 18 gigawatts of turbines at sea installed from 2 gigawatts at present to meet climate change goals. A European “supergrid” linking Britain’s electricity network to the continent could reduce the cost of connecting offshore wind farms by a quarter, according to the U.K. parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee.

“Linking up power cables between offshore wind farms could make some serious savings, so we would be crazy not to encourage it,” Energy Minister Charles Hendry said in the statement. The government is seeking to lower the cost of offshore wind to 100 pounds a megawatt-hour by 2020 from about 150 pounds.

It will cost 6 billion to 24 billion pounds to connect and operate the new wind farms up until 2030, according to the report. Linking the sites could save 500 million to 3.5 billion pounds, it said.

“The idea of a more streamlined and integrated offshore grid network has been around for some time,” Beverley Walker, head of offshore renewables at global energy consultancy WSP Future Energy, said in an e-mail. The idea of a “web” of cables would help address issues including intermittency, shortfalls in cable supply and the drive for cheaper infrastructure costs, she said.

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