East of England focus for spatial study

The Crown Estate (TCE) is conducting a study to consider the spatial context for connecting future offshore wind in the east of England.

On 17 December, BEIS held a webinar, updating on the work being carried out by the Offshore Transmission Network Review (OTNR). During this, TCE outlined its East Coast Grid Spatial Study, tendered and awarded to AECOM in July 2020. Its aims include developing a deeper understanding of potential terrestrial and marine constraints future offshore wind farms connecting to the east coast of England will face, along with assessing the risks and issues to deployment of offshore wind projects driven by constraints, and if a coordinated or integrated approach to offshore transmission could mitigate them.

The study involves strategic scale constraints mapping of the study area, with a focus on nearshore, beach landing ports and onshore to the transmission system; a regional level spatial assessment to understand the level of constraints and potential implications; define connection scenarios for hypothetical future offshore wind buildout in the study area; and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of alternative connection designs in the context of marine and terrestrial constraints identified, before making recommendations.

The east of England was chosen due to the connection of offshore wind in the area being expected to grow significantly over the coming years, as well as other infrastructure set to develop in the region – such as interconnectors and nuclear – which will add to the pressure and disruption for onshore communities and the environment.

Emerging conclusions from spatial mapping include that existing offshore wind projects have a significant spatial influence on future development; the level of constraint is dynamic and will change over time, especially if continuing on a radial basis only; and there may be opportunities to extend the onshore transmission system to coastal locations. A draft report is currently under review, with output set to be published in early 2021.