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Electricity Grid Almost Full, Say Green Power Bosses

Sep 10, 2008 - The Scotsman

Scotland's renewable targets will not be met unless the "woeful" electricity grid system is urgently improved, energy company bosses warned yesterday.

The grid network which transports electricity across Scotland is almost full, and must be expanded to enable the renewables industry to grow, according to directors at Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and ScottishPower Renewables.

The controversial plans to expand the Beauly to Denny transmission line will be key, they argue. Dr Keith Maclean, head of sustainable development at SSE, told The Scotsman that without this expansion, the targets of 20 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020 will not be met.

"It's as simple as that," he said. "Without enough capacity in the transmission network, we won't be able to connect enough renewable projects.

"Beauly-Denny is the key to unleashing sufficient capacity to meet the 2020 targets."

Currently, 115 Scottish renewable schemes, totalling nine gigawatts, are waiting in a queue to plug into the grid before they can transmit electricity.

Some already have planning permission but have to wait many years to connect.

The 21-turbine Drummuir wind farm by energy company RES was granted permission in 2005 but cannot connect until 2016 due to the backlog.

The warnings came on the day of a major energy conference in Edinburgh, hosted by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

Jim Mather, the energy minister, announced at the Scotland's Energy Future Conference that 5.5 gigawatts of renewable schemes are now operating or have planning permission in Scotland - more than enough to meet the Scottish Government's targets of 31 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2011.

However, Keith Anderson, director of ScottishPower Renewables, told the conference: "It's all very well consenting renewable projects... but we need to be able to connect them to a grid system. The current grid system is woeful for what we need in the future. It needs huge levels of investment and it needs to happen very, very quickly."

A decision is expected on the Beauly-Denny line next year, and one renewable industry insider said the wait was "ridiculous".

Jason Ormiston, chief executive of Scottish Renewables said the Beauly to Denny powerline was the "keystone" and described it as "a real test of political support for renewables."

The plans to replace the Beauly to Denny transmission line have attracted more than 18,000 objections, many on environmental grounds.

Last night, a Scottish Government spokesman agreed the grid system "places significant barriers towards meeting our renewable energy ambitions."

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