The energy regulator said this would “bring forward billions of pounds of investment” in the subsea cables, which can import cheaper energy when needed and export surplus power from the UK when it is available.
Developers will be invited to submit bids to build the interconnectors next year. Ofgem will additionally run a pilot scheme for ‘multiple-purpose interconnectors’, which are used to link clusters of offshore wind farms to an interconnector.
This forms part of the UK Government drive to more than double capacity by 2030, in support of its target of quadrupling offshore wind capacity by the same date.
Interconnectors provide some 7 per cent of UK electricity demand. The UK so far has seven electricity interconnectors linked to Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway.
Balfour Beatty won a £90m contract for onshore civil engineering works on the Viking Link Norway interconnector, which is due to come into operation in 2023.
It said that interconnector developers have in the past been allowed to propose their preferred design, connection location and sea route to the connecting country. Ofgem has now said it may decide to consider only those projects that meet its requirements based on an analysis of location and capacity needs by National Grid.
Ofgem has not specified that the new interconnectors must link to any specific place or country, but may do so later.