Friday 4 August 2023

UK must build power lines faster, urges government’s first energy networks commissioner

UK must build power lines faster, urges government’s first energy networks commissioner

The UK has the opportunity to accelerate the construction of new power lines, effectively tackling the long-standing backlog of renewable energy projects waiting to connect to the electricity grid.

A recent report led by the Electricity Networks Commissioner, Nick Winser, underscores the crucial need to expedite the delivery of strategic transmission.

The report emphasises that ensuring efficient power delivery to homes and businesses is paramount to fulfilling the nation's ambitious energy goals.

The report acknowledges the remarkable progress achieved in offshore wind generation.

However, it issues a stark warning that failing to take swift action in constructing the essential power lines could lead to squandering the benefits of these projects.

Currently, the process of building transmission lines can be lengthy, ranging from twelve to fourteen years.

This sluggish pace is deemed inadequate, urging the need for expediting the process significantly.

The Electricity Networks Commissioner, Nick Winser, has proposed 18 recommendations, supported by a companion report from Energy Systems Catapult, aiming to reduce the delivery time for strategic transmission lines to around seven years.

Some key recommendations include establishing the Future System Operator (FSO) responsible for a Strategic Spatial Energy Plan (SSEP), assessing new regional flexibility markets, updating National Policy Statements, creating Electricity Transmission Design Principles and implementing a focused information campaign on the need for a grid refresh.

Additionally, the report suggests establishing clear and public guidelines for community benefit.

In his letter to the Electricity Networks Commissioner, Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps said: "While good progress has been made, we recognise that further action is needed. We will build on the momentum generated from this report and target specific priority areas for immediate focus.

"We recognise the fundamental change needed and have committed to publishing an Action Plan this year in response to your recommendations.

"We will give your recommendations full consideration in the Action Plan but I can be clear now that the direction of the package is broadly in line with the approach being taken by Government."

Written by

Bruna Pinhoni

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