U.K. grid requires £4.7 billion investment by 2020


U.K. Energy and
Climate Change
Mike O’Brien
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — March 6, 2009 – The United Kingdom’s electricity grid requires investment of up to £4.7 billion for upgrades to accommodate new power generation by 2020, according to a new report from 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 to ensure new renewable and nuclear generation capacity can be connected to the electricity grid.

As part of the U.K.’s commitment to move towards a low carbon energy supply, it is expected the country will need to generate around 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 as well as encouraging the development of new nuclear plants.

The report is based on the connection of up to 35 GW of renewables, including both onshore and offshore wind generation, and up to 10 GW of new nuclear power.

The report identifies several areas that require transmission upgrades. Among these are North Scotland and the links between Scotland and England, for which high voltage subsea cable links are proposed, North and Central Wales, England’s east coast, London, and the Severn Estuary area of south-west of England.

The report concludes that if the network is to facilitate the connection of renewable generation in a timely manner it is essential that pre-construction work commence immediately. First year work is estimated between £10 million to £20 million.

“This report marks the start of the electricity grid’s makeover to accommodate new low carbon power generation which is needed by 2020,” said Energy and Climate Change minister Mike O’Brien. “Having a grid which is fit for purpose is vital for our ambitions to cut carbon emissions and increase security of supply.”

Ofgem has announced recently that 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 also working on the regulatory regime to meet the 2020 renewables targets.

The ENSG is a high level forum bringing together key stakeholders in the electricity supply industry and is chaired jointly by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Ofgem.