Companies will be able to compete for the right to own and operate the links to 2.8 GW of offshore wind farms for the next 20 years, Ofgem has announced.
The energy regulator has launched a £1.9bn competitive tendering process for the high voltage transmission links needed to connect offshore windmills to the national grid.
Together with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Ofgem has administered a second tender round to encourage “cost-effective investment”.
Two projects off the North West coast are involved in the competition – Gwynt-y-Mor, near the Dee Estuary and West of Duddon Sands, close to Barrow-in-Furness.
The other wind farms affected will be Lincs near Skegness; the London Array in the Thames Estuary; Humber Gateway, off the East Yorkshire Coast; and Race Bank in Norfolk.
Energy minister Charles Hendry said: “We have 40 per cent of Europe’s wind and we have 11,000 km of coastline. We ought to be using those resources for our future energy security, but to do this we need to get the investment in the infrastructure that will make this happen.
“I hope the second round of tendering for owning and operating the links to offshore wind farms will be as successful as the first, where investment interest was four times the necessary level. This competition also means savings for generators and consumers, which I very much welcome.”