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TenneT and The Crown Estate joined forces to explore possible opportunities for further cost reduction in offshore wind through alternative grid connection infrastructure solutions. This led to the jointly commissioned study assessing the potential benefits of combining cross-border electricity interconnection with electrical infrastructure for offshore wind farms; a so-called ‘WindConnector’. 

A WindConnector is a hybrid form of interconnector that, like a conventional interconnector, allows for cross-border flows of energy. However, unlike a conventional interconnector, the cross-border flow functionality is provided in combination with infrastructure that also provides for connection of offshore windfarms to onshore systems. The study identifies potential capital savings of up to € 1.8 billion and increased asset utilisation from 45-50 per cent up to 80 per cent. The modelling undertaken by Pöyry suggests the value of market-to-market flows enabled more than offsets the investment required to install the additional infrastructure required to link the markets. Current regulatory frameworks however present restrictions on multi-use of offshore transmission assets. In order to realise the maximum potential benefits, amendments to the regulatory frameworks would be needed. The study results suggest there is a sound basis for more detailed analysis and assessment, coupled the wider interaction that will be necessary to advance this concept including with the offshore wind sector, government departments and regulators.