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Report sets out 2020 vision of UK electricity grid

Mar 5, 2009 - Newnet - New Energy World Network.com

Investment worth up to £4.7bn is expected to be needed to upgrade the electricity grid network to accommodate new power generation by 2020, according to a report published today by the Electricity Networks Strategy Group (ENSG).

In what will be the largest single expansion of the grid since the early 1960s, up to 1,000 km of new cables will be needed in the UK to ensure new renewables and nuclear power stations can be connected to the electricity grid. It is expected the UK will need to generate around 30 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 as well as encouraging the development of new nuclear plants.

The report, which was produced by the industry under the auspices of the ENSG, says connecting up to 35GW of renewable and up to 10GW of new nuclear power will require a major upgrade of our electricity networks. It concludes that work needs to start now to upgrade the existing grid and includes proposals for high voltage subsea cable links between Scotland and England.

Energy and Climate Change Minister Mike O’Brien said, ‘This report marks the start of the electricity grid’s makeover to accommodate new low carbon power generation which is needed by 2020.

‘This is a massive long term investment opportunity and this upgrade work will help support jobs across the low carbon economy.

‘Having a grid which is fit for purpose is vital for our ambitions to cut carbon emissions and increase security of supply,’ he added.

Ofgem has in recent days announced it intends to approve the funds needed to begin the pre-construction work on specific transmission projects that are due to start work soon. Ofgem is continuing to develop proposals to make the regulatory regime capable of meeting the challenges presented by the 2020 renewable energy targets.

Thomas Lingard, deputy director of Green Alliance, said, ‘The ENSG report conveys a welcome sense of urgency regarding the investment required to put us on track to meet our 2020 emissions reduction targets. Ensuring we have a grid to support our emerging renewable infrastructure is essential to the decarbonisation of our electricity supply, and therefore our economy.’

Nick Winser, executive director of transmission at National Grid, added, ‘With the move to a low carbon economy being critical to all our futures, this work shows just how important it is for government, Ofgem and the energy industry to all work together with common purpose. We’ve always had a reliable well invested electricity network in this country, but the report marks a step change in the UK’s energy revolution, showing the key new strategic investments we need to make to the transmission system. We are proud to have played a key role.’

DECC and Ofgem are also leading a project to put a new regulatory regime in place to connect offshore wind projects to the onshore grid in the most cost effective way. A final consultation on the plan is expected shortly.

Download the full report here.

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