UK to hold first offshore transmission tenders

LONDON Wed Jan 21, 2009 12:01am GMT

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LONDON Jan 21 (Reuters) - UK energy regulator Ofgem has appointed financial advisers to run the multi-billion pound tenders for linking the world's largest offshore wind farms to Britain's national grid.

Ofgem said on Wednesday it had appointed a consortium led by Ernest & Young to run the first round of tenders worth more than 10 billion pounds ($14.05 billion) to connect an expected boom in North Sea wind turbines to the mainland.

"Offshore wind will occupy a pivotal place in Britain's low-carbon generation," Ofgem Chief Executive Alistair Buchanan was quoted as saying.

"We take very seriously the need to ensure that the networks are delivered on time and at a fair cost to customers."

Britain, already home to the world's largest wind farms, plans to expand the capacity for the green energy by as much as 33 gigawatts -- enough to power about 10 million homes -- to help the country meet its renewable energy targets for 2020.

It currently only has about 3 gigawatts of wind capacity, including onshore wind farms.

A spokesman at Ofgem said the tender should accelerate building the new power networks and bring down costs.

Ofgem said tenders would be concluded in June next year, with competitive tenders for between 500 million and 1 billion pounds of assets taking place shortly afterwards.

The consortium includes also Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) and insurer Willis.

Britain's onshore electricity is run by National Grid (NG.L). (Reporting by Nao Nakanishi)