The renewables industry has welcomed UK Electricity Networks Commissioner Nick Winser’s report, saying halving the delivery times for transmission projects to seven years would be a “game changer”.
Findings of the nine-month review were presented to UK Energy Secretary Grant Shapps last week.
They set out a series of recommendations to streamline the delivery of new grid infrastructure and implement a more strategic approach to deployment to keep pace with the acceleration of renewable generation.
RWE UK country chair Tom Glover said:
“Nick Winser’s recommendations address a major national issue with an equal scale of ambition to halve the speed of grid connections from around 14 years to just seven.
“This would be a game changer for the industry and the country, but needs a step-change in attitude focused on planning more strategically and long-term, plus an invigorated sense of urgency to adopt and deliver proposals quickly.
“Grid is widely accepted as the single biggest blocker to the deployment of new, low carbon power, and risks delays to investment and net zero.
“Connection delays of up to six years are already impacting RWE’s development pipeline.
“As a leading provider of UK electricity and energy security, we can do our bit by speeding-up deployment, but need to be able to plug in faster to get that power to UK homes.”
Trade group Energy UK’s deputy director Adam Berman added 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.“So we welcome Nick Winser’s recommendations, particularly the focus on strategic network planning as well as supply chain development and skills, and encourage the government to respond to these recommendations with urgency and ambition. “Alongside the joint Ofgem and DESNZ Connections Action Plan anticipated later this year, the government’s response to this report must represent a transformative change to the way we develop net zero infrastructure.”
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps has said he will consider the report’s findings before setting out an action plan later this year.
RenewableUK added it was pleased to see the “timely” report put forward a series of constructive measures to speed up the pace at which the UK builds vital new grid infrastructure.
Chief executive Dan McGrail said:
“These recommendations will benefit billpayers across the country by ensuring that we maximise the vast quantities of cheap, clean power we’re generating from renewables, and that we can get it to British homes and businesses more efficiently.
“The UK has reached a turning point where delaying new grid is not in the best interests of consumers, as they need to be able to access electricity at the lowest cost more easily.
“This report shows that removing constraints and bottlenecks from the grid as a matter of urgency will provide the best value for money for billpayers.
“It sets out a range of proposals for a strategic long-term plan for network development which will be essential to meet our net zero goals.”
Octopus Energy Generation chief executive Zoisa North-Bond added:
“Power from renewables is currently cheaper than power from fossil fuels, but grid connection wait times remain a national scandal. It’s brilliant to see these recommendations to streamline the UK’s grid system and we hope they can be rolled out quickly.
“The UK is on the cusp of a massive decarbonisation opportunity, to build and connect more green energy and deliver cheaper, cleaner energy to people as a result. Timing is of the essence – the need to bring down bills and boost our energy security couldn’t be more urgent.”