The connection of cables from offshore wind parks to interconnection lines is receiving growing attention in Europe as a way to minimise the costs of laying down future offshore transmission grids in a wind-heavy system. Although important technical breakthroughs are enabling transmission system operators to engage in such hybrid forms of architecture, substantial regulatory challenges and uncertainties over the legal definition of the new architecture are preventing progress.
Anchored in current European legal frameworks and targets, this paper critically reviews the national framework conditions that treat the development of transmission grids as regulated assets, focusing on the distribution of connection costs, the access grid tariff and the investment incentives faced by transmission system operators (TSOs) in recovering costs. The paper develops an ideal regulatory framework and compares it to the current regulations in countries around the Baltic Sea in order to assess their suitability for supporting Meshed Offshore Grids (MOGs).
The results of this paper highlight the heterogeneity of national regulatory frameworks and the deviations from our recommendations. It is found that Germany lives up to the recommendations best, followed by Denmark, which suggests they have the regulatory potential to pioneer a MOG project in the Baltic Sea region. This is followed by consideration of two clusters of countries defined by their proximity to the ideal framework, assuming a three-step development of MOGs, and following ever more progressive regulatory adjustments. The results of the paper will provide policy-makers with indications for how to take action in order to facilitate offshore hybrid grid investments and improve the inclusion of the regulatory challenges in technical-economic assessments.