UK must avoid "gold-plating" transmission grids

The UK must avoid “gold-plating” or giving preferential treatment to renewable energy transmission networks. That’s the view of conservationists from the Scotland-based John Muir Trust. Currently the grid is built […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The UK must avoid “gold-plating” or giving preferential treatment to renewable energy transmission networks. That’s the view of conservationists from the Scotland-based John Muir Trust.

Currently the grid is built around power stations located near populated areas. But offshore wind farms will need large sections of new transmission cables to transfer electricity from rural areas vast distances away from populations.

These new networks will cost millions but the charity argues they’re not necessary. Speaking at the Tory party conference last week head of policy Helen McDade told ELN:

“If we have to spend a lot of money doing the back up generation [to fill the gap between nuclear and wind], then it’s gas, coal or carbon capture and storage, and it will be put nearer the population, then we maybe don’t need to gold-plate the transmission system.”

She added these other options were not being explored as Government seemed to be following the lead of energy firms: “At the moment we’re just getting the energy policies written, I’m afraid, pretty much by the energy companies, because the civil servants and politicians are taking their word for the figures.”