Thirteen companies are in the running to buy £1.15bn-worth of electricity transmission links to nine offshore windfarms as part of a £15bn plan to improve competition in the UK's green energy infrastructure.
The new regime from regulator Ofgem comes against the backdrop of the Government's target for another 33 gigawatts of offshore wind – or around 50 per cent of the current installed capacity – be built by 2020.
By separating the design, construction and operation of the cables linking to onshore sub-stations from construction of the farms themselves, Ofgem hopes to bring down costs.
The first phase covers nine wind farms including Barrow and Robin Rigg, which are already operating, and several more already in the process of being built. Bidders in the selection process include ABN Amro Infrastructure Capital Management, Balfour Beatty, Macquarie and National Grid.
The winning bidders will be announced in the spring, before a second round of contracts is put up for sale next summer. These first two tranches of tenders will cover infrastructure already either up and running or in the process of being built. After that, the regime will apply to all new construction programmes.