DECC Policy Statement on the Offshore Electricity Grid
The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) has just published a Policy Statement on the Framework for Ireland’s Offshore Electricity Transmission System, following approval by Government of the framework in April 2021.
The new offshore transmission system policy includes a phased transition from the current decentralised model to a centralised model over the course of the next decade and this will occur in line with three scheduled offshore wind RESS auctions. In concert with a suite of additional measures, this framework will facilitate Ireland meeting its objective to procure 5GW of offshore wind generation by 2030.
The three phases in the move from the current decentralised model to the planned centralised model are:
- First phase: Decentralised Stage Grid Development (2021-2024)
- Second phase: Transition Stage Grid Development (2025-2030)
- Third phase: Enduring Centralised Grid Development (2030 onwards).
It is hoped that the first phase will facilitate developers, which could include certain legacy offshore wind projects, to deliver significant generation capacity and the associated transmission system to connect that offshore generation capacity to the grid within a compressed timeline.
Ownership of the Offshore Grid
Ownership of the offshore transmission system will sit with EirGrid throughout all phases, regardless of whether the offshore transmission system has been planned and developed by EirGrid itself as TSO.
RESS and Offshore Wind
It is envisaged that the projects that are successful in the first offshore RESS auction will develop the offshore transmission system necessary to connect those offshore wind installations to the onshore grid. Where such grid development costs are to the account of these projects, it is assumed that the costs will be incorporated into RESS auction bids, and ultimately recovered through the Public Service Obligation (PSO) Levy.
It is anticipated that the inaugural offshore wind RESS auction will be held in early 2022.
Contributed by Colm Booth & Lucy Horan