Earlier today, the Energy Networks Commissioner released a report that lays out essential recommendations to expedite the UK’s energy transition.
The report addresses the pressing need to upgrade network infrastructure to meet ambitious clean energy goals and effectively combat climate change.
The report identifies a significant challenge in the current process for building transmission infrastructure, which takes twelve to fourteen years.
This delay hampers the ability to connect clean energy generation capacity to demand centres efficiently, hindering the realisation of the government’s clean energy ambitions, Nick Winser has said.
Responding to the findings and recommendations in the Electricity Networks Commissioner report, Energy UK Deputy Director Adam Berman said: “Cutting the time to plan and build network infrastructure is arguably the most pressing challenge facing the energy transition.
“Hitting our ambitious targets for the expansion of clean domestic energy that will cut bills and emissions while strengthening our energy security depends on being able to connect projects to the network much quicker than is currently the case for many of them.”
Fintan Slye, ESO Executive Director, expressed strong support for the report, emphasising the need for collaboration with stakeholders and communities:
“The ESO strongly welcomes and supports Nick Winser’s review. We are committed to working with all stakeholders and communities – from Peterhead to Penzance – to ensure the grid Britain needs for the future is delivered.”
Carl Trowell, President, UK Strategic Infrastructure at National Grid, emphasises the importance of implementing the recommendations and progress in the energy transition: “There is no time to waste, implementing the proposals and progressing the energy transition at pace is the surest route to more affordable bills, greater energy resilience and a more energy-independent UK.”
Paul Miner, head of policy and planning at the countryside charity CPRE supports the urgency to upgrade the grid while maintaining necessary safeguards:
“Upgrading the grid is an urgent necessity. For a project of such importance, the highest standards, safeguards, and planning become more important, not less.
“There’s no reason getting new power lines approved and installed should be a time-consuming process. A properly funded, streamlined, and strategic system should be able to competently process a high volume of applications, but it must also properly consider potential landscape impacts and how these can best be avoided.
“We are prepared to support halving the time it takes to get new electricity transmission infrastructure online so long as no corners are cut in the process.
“At this stage, our biggest concern is over the proposed Electricity Transmission Design Principles, which would be used to streamline the process. A full public consultation is vital considering these designs would be fast-tracked through the planning system with little further scrutiny. We can expect rapid advances in technology, so regular consultations to incorporate the latest innovations will be necessary.
“There are longstanding concerns about the impact of overhead lines in areas of scenic beauty. National parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and World Heritage Sites are unsuitable locations for electricity transmission networks and need to be avoided. We think it is much easier to put new lines underground, and in a way that minimizes damage, than this report suggests. For example, existing railway tunnels may be far more suitable and unobtrusive.
“We do not support offering payments to households. But a transparent scheme of investment to support a revolution in rooftop solar installations near to overhead lines should be investigated further.”