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Britain's electricity grid prepares for the future: a SEK 700 billion plan

Britain's electricity grid prepares for the future: a SEK 700 billion plan

The UK Electricity System Operator (ESO) has submitted a report proposing to invest SEK 700 billion in the electricity network to meet the UK's growing electricity demand until 2035.

According to the “Beyond 2030” report, this investment will enable the UK to fulfill its economic potential as a leader in offshore wind energy by transporting electricity to where it is needed.

The plan includes connecting a further 21 GW of offshore wind from development projects off the coast of Scotland to the grid “in an efficient and coordinated way”, supporting a total of 86 GW across the UK, according to the report.

Electric spine

The report highlights the need for “rapid and coordinated action” across the energy sector, government, regulators and communities to deliver grid infrastructure in a timely manner by 2035.

It is also proposed to extend the existing ocean-based grid and create a new north-south electrical backbone.

Locally produced electricity

This would see its energy from offshore wind farms off the coast of Scotland being transferred via a new transmission line, possibly extending from Peterhead to Merseyside, to supply homes and businesses across Scotland and northern England with locally produced electricity.

ESO notes that this is an early proposal that will require further study and consultation.

In addition, additional sea links along the east coast of the UK are recommended.

This investment will enable a net-zero carbon electricity system in the UK by 2035, in line with the Sixth Carbon Budget, while creating more than 20,000 jobs annually, with 90% of the benefits outside London and the south-east of England, according to independent research.

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Underwater cable

By 2035, the UK will have one of the most extensive and coordinated submarine networks in the world, with submarine cables three times larger than those on land, according to the report.

Further design, innovation and community engagement will be improved to ensure a balance between the needs of different communities as well as broader economic and systemic security needs.

Fintan Sly, Executive Director of ESO, says:

The UK's electricity system is the backbone of our economy and must adapt to our future.

The “Beyond 2030” ESO Network Design provides recommendations on what investment is needed and how and where the construction of this vital new national infrastructure should be coordinated.

Tremendous growth

A National Grid spokesperson added: – The massive growth in offshore wind, interstate connectivity and nuclear power will all generate more electricity than the grids can currently carry.

– The Electricity System Operator's 'Beyond 2030' report recognizes the need to connect networks quickly and is an important step towards unlocking a decarbonised, affordable and resilient UK electricity system.

Source: ISO