Department of Energy and Climate Change
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Report sets out 2020 vision of electricity grid

Report sets out 2020 vision of electricity grid

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE News Release (2009/024) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 4 March 2009

Investment worth up to £4.7 billion 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 to ensure new renewables and nuclear power stations can be connected to the electricity grid.

As part of the UK's commitment to move towards a low carbon energy supply, it is expected the UK will need to generate around 30% 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."

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.

The report is the latest piece of work to come from the Transmission Access Review (TAR) which will ultimately reform the electricity grid structure for 2020.

The TAR, published alongside the Renewable Energy Strategy consultation, is helping to create faster grid connections for power projects.

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 said:

"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."

Ofgem Chief Executive, Alistair Buchanan, said:

"Getting the right electricity infrastructure in place so more renewable generators can connect is critical if the UK is to meet challenging new renewable targets. Ofgem has been proactive in this area by approving major increases in investment in the electricity networks, including the £5 billion for network upgrades and renewal between 2007 and 2012. The industry report proposes the use of technology so far unused in this country. This demonstrates a willingness to consider innovative solutions which could lead to faster build times and avoid the need to secure planning permission for onshore lines. We will continue to work with the industry to develop appropriate incentives to encourage efficient and effective innovation."

David Green, Chief Executive of the UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy said:

"Delivering the infrastructure that will be needed to put the UK on track to significant carbon reduction means that investing now in the transmission and distribution system is vital. This report is a welcome step forward - with the potential to significantly boost the UK's generation of green jobs"

Also, DECC and Ofgem are 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.

Notes to Editors:

1. The ENSG provides a high level forum which brings together key stakeholders in the electricity supply industry to support Government in meeting our long-term energy challenges. The Group is chaired jointly by DECC and Ofgem. Full membership and terms of reference can be found at

2. Access to the electricity network and delivering new transmission infrastructure are among the critical barriers to the increased deployment of renewable and other forms of generation in Great Britain.

3. The Final report of the "Transmission Access Review" - sets out a comprehensive set of measures which taken together, DECC and Ofgem believe will remove, or significantly reduce, the barriers to all forms of generation gaining access to the grid and so speed up the connection of new generation. These measures include the development by Ofgem of appropriate financial incentives to deliver the new network needed to meet the 2020 renewables target.

4. The delivery of specific proposals for the reinforcement and/or expansion of the GB transmission network are the responsibility of the Transmission Licensees and will be subject to the appropriate regulatory and planning processes.

5. The final report will be available here later today: (please call press office in the meantime for a pdf of the report)

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