The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has flagged up that Britain's offshore energy networks need to become more integrated to avoid an overcrowding situation in the UK's seas.
Offshore energy comprises gas, oil, hydrogen, wind, hydro and electricity transmission, which form a vital role in the UK's transition towards becoming a net-zero carbon economy. However, without a clear strategy for better coordination, the IET explains, these industries are failing to maximise the opportunities to unlock the maximum benefits of green technologies and to enjoy greater efficiencies of scale.
Elaine Greig, the director of Renewable Consulting Group, has said that the UK's seas were a vital resource but one that was limited and already heavily used for both protection and energy production purposes. She added that the powerful marine environment would rapidly become overcrowded if planning wasn't properly carried out.
The British government wants to see 40GW of wind power installed offshore by 2030, which will meet all of the existing capacity and potentially cause crowding issues if not carefully coordinated.
The first step to achieving this more joined-up approach would be to fully engage with the entire energy industry via a planned period of coordination. This would also help to coordinate responses to identified constraints such as locations for common cable lendings, which will come under heavier pressure as the industry scales to meet new targets.
The IET also reports that there are currently 50 high-profile initiatives across the industry, with 500 participants involved across a broad series of interest groups and16 of these working to actively progress plants for integration in the offshore network.
A joined-up approach could help to unlock better supply chains, more effective regulation, lower costs and more skilled jobs.