The British government wants to construct an offshore transmission grid along the west coast, which would use an undersea cable to link offshore windfarms and other renewable energy projects directly to the mainland grid.LONDON, England, UK, 2001-11-22 [SolarAccess.com] If large, undeveloped renewable resources along the coast are to be fully exploited, there is a need to upgrade the existing electricity infrastructure, says energy minister Brian Wilson. One possibility is to develop an underwater cable to connect parts of the western seaboard of Scotland, northwest England, Northern Ireland, western Wales and possibly southwest England, directly to the national grid. The government’s renewable research and development program will fund an initial study this year by PB Power Ltd, which will look into the feasibility of such interconnection. The study will look at a number of issues, including cost, geographic location, and the extent to which renewable energy resources can be served by the link. If it confirms that an interconnector is economically and technically viable, a second study will examine cable routings and points of connection with the grid in more detail. “The UK has huge untapped renewable resources, but much of this potential can not be fully utilized at present because of weak or non existent electricity infrastructure in some places,” says Wilson. “The proposed interconnector is a possible means of capturing this powerflow and transmitting it around the UK, without encountering many of the inevitable environmental concerns which land based transmission systems would attract.” “The western seaboard, from the Hebrides down to the West country, could contribute far more of the country’s energy needs if this infrastructure deficiency can be overcome,” he adds. “The economic implications of these proposals are enormous.” The government wants to create a £1 billion market for renewable energy by 2010, by using the renewables obligation to require electricity suppliers to supply 10 percent of their power from renewable sources. In addition, a £260 million support program has been provided for the next three years.