British energy market regulator Ofgem has begun the final consultation stage of its lengthy quest to put in place a regulatory framework for connecting offshore wind farms to the mainland grid. It began consulting on the design of the offshore transmission regime in 2005 and two years ago decided it would adopt a competitive approach to awarding licences to offshore transmission operators. Some £15 billion of offshore transmission infrastructure is expected to be needed to connect up to 33 GW of offshore wind by 2020. The latest consultation covers the final details of the competitive tender process. Ofgem intends to invite bids for the first stage of offshore transmission -- a "transitional regime" covering current ownership of transmission assets -- this summer. Current assets have been built by developers of some of the UK's existing offshore wind farms or those under construction. These include one existing wind farm, 90 MW at Barrow; and seven projects either currently or soon to be under construction: 180 MW Robin Rigg, 172 MW Gunfleet Sands, 315 MW Sheringham Shoal, 150 MW Ormonde, 504 MW Greater Gabbard, 178 MW Walney, and 300 MW Thanet.
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