The consultation proposes changes to the regulatory regime for offshore transmission. A more coordinated approach could reduce the estimated £6-24 billion cost of connecting and operating new links needed by 2030 by £0.5-£3.5 billion, research for the government found.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is trying to reduce the cost of offshore wind from around £150/MWh to £100/MWh by 2020. Coordinating the offshore grid more effectively could also pave the way for an offshore network in the North Sea linking wind farms off Britain's coast to other European countries.
The consultation also suggests an approach to managing investment in grid connections that go beyond the needs of a particular project. The lack of clarity on this issue, known as "anticipatory investment", has been highlighted as a key barrier to better coordination of the transmission network.
Head of grid at RenewableUK Guy Nicholson said: "As well as connecting the 18GW of offshore wind generation we expect to be operating by 2020, the offshore transmission regime can help reduce timescales and costs for both onshore reinforcement and interconnection with the rest of Europe."