Work package 17 Reframing licensing and permitting for offshore interconnectors

Offshore interconnectors play a crucial role in the EU energy system. Offshore interconnectors are transnational high voltage DC cable connections between national grid systems and are the basis for European market integration, security of supply, and integration of renewable energy sources. In the near future offshore wind farms may tee-in to offshore interconnec-tors, and this will enhance grid access for renewable energy from offshore wind farms.

The aim of WP17 is to make the procedure for obtaining an authority permit for offshore interconnectors more efficient and more robust by defining best practices for planning and permitting focusing on the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions. Applicable conclusions have been drawn up concerning common licensing barriers together with a proposal for concrete measures for anticipating licensing problems. WP17 looks into options for harmonising the national permitting process and for sharing standards for studying and evaluating project impacts. It results in practical approaches for making the transnational consenting processes more efficient and more effective.

Planning and permitting

We distinguish the European Commission, regional (e.g. North Sea) and national levels as the main actor levels for optimising the planning and permitting process for offshore interconnectors.

European Commission

The European Commission is a key player in promoting offshore interconnectors. The Commission is responsible for EU regulations, such as those governing nature protection, which have a major impact on marine spatial planning in general. The European Commission also plays a vital role in promoting future infrastructures with financial support schemes and its support of Projects of Common Interest (PCIs). The interests at an EU level may sometimes supersede the interest of a single member state or individual project case. In practice this means that individual member states in cross-border cable projects may not benefit equally from the project. In such project cases, the European Commission may support more coordination on the overall cable route and compensation schemes between member states in order to balance the interests of the EU and the individual member states. Additionally, the European Commission may strive for legislation concerning the har-monisation of planning processes between Member States, similar to its support of PCIs.

Regional and national levels

The coordination of routing is a key factor in the successful planning of offshore interconnectors. For national and transnational routing, the regional and national authorities play a crucial role in balancing the benefits and drawbacks between Member States and stakeholders. In practice, individual Member States and stakeholders will experience a different sense of urgency when it comes to supporting the project. Compensation schemes may be needed to overcome these imbalances between stakeholders. When it comes to Member States' legislation and policy, most current in-terconnector projects will have already been identified and registered in planning strategy documents. These documents identify, at an early stage and on a global scale, the possible routing, landing points and time horizon of identified projects. For the further strategic development of interconnectors, Member States should also develop a comprehensive offshore master plan covering time planning, routing and connections for intercon-nectors in combination with wind farm connectors. The technical requirements for combining interconnectors and wind farm connectors need further consideration.

Stakeholder management

It is essential to cooperate with policy-makers at EU and national level to encourage the development of in-terconnector projects.

TWENTIES project

The TWENTIES Project (Transmission system operation with a large penetration of wind and other renewable electricity sources in electricity networks using innovative tools and integrated energy solutions) was coordinated by Red Eléctrica de España, the Spanish Transmission System Operator, and ran from 2010 to 2013. Its aim was to advance the development and deployment of new technologies facilitating the widespread integration of more onshore and offshore wind power into the European electricity system by 2020 and beyond.

TWENTIES is one of the largest renewable energy demonstration projects ever funded by the European Commission under its seventh Framework Programme (FP7), with a total budget of over €56.8 million and an EU contribution of close to €32 million.

TWENTIES was organised around six large-scale demonstration projects grouped into three Task Forces. The demonstration projects were complemented by three work packages focusing on the replicability and scalability of the project results across the EU, and on the non-technological barriers to the development of an offshore grid.