After 18 months of engagement with communities across East Suffolk, National Grid Ventures, the commercial development arm of National Grid plc, has listened and responded with an innovative new concept for interconnectors – subsea cables that connect Great Britain with the energy systems of neighbouring countries. Known as a multi-purpose interconnector (MPI), this new generation of interconnector will connect to multiple offshore wind farms, enabling the export of excess clean energy and reducing the impact of infrastructure on coastal communities.

Following a round of introductory engagement with local councils, parish councils and community groups, National Grid Ventures understands that there is a strong desire for increased coordination and cooperation between energy developers in the region. By combining offshore wind farms with an interconnector, MPIs would reduce the amount of onshore infrastructure needed, compared to the current approach in which interconnectors and wind farms are developed and connected separately.

National Grid recently welcomed the launch of the Government’s Offshore Transmission Network Review, which seeks to address the barriers to deployment of offshore wind at scale. Offshore wind is an essential technology for delivering net-zero and will require major development and reinforcement of transmission networks both onshore and offshore. National Grid Ventures is committed to working closely with the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Ofgem and the wider industry to ensure that innovations such as MPIs help deliver the review’s stated objective for better coordination of infrastructure.

National Grid Ventures is currently working to develop a viable MPI by the end of the decade, which means that its interconnector proposals in East Suffolk, currently known as Nautilus and EuroLink, will be reclassified as MPIs. 

National Grid Ventures and Dutch Transmission System Operator TenneT recently (Sept 22) announced a cooperation agreement to explore the feasibility of connecting Dutch and British wind farms to the energy systems of both countries via an MPI. The development would be the first of its kind for the UK and the Netherlands in the North Sea.

Martin Cook, Head of Business Development of National Grid Ventures, said: “The UK’s binding commitment to net-zero by 2050 has set a clear goal for a low-carbon future for generations to come. Multi-Purpose Interconnectors have the potential to act as a key enabler for new offshore wind projects. By working closely with local communities, government, the regulator and industry, we’re committed to designing a solution that will help to decarbonise our society, while reducing the impact of required clean energy infrastructure on the environment and local people.”

Image source: Courtesy of National Grid

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