BWEA Head of Grid Guy Nicholson said: “This is great news for the UK wind power industry, it’s the first step in building a 21st century grid system capable of connecting decentralised green energy throughout the UK”.
Much of the existing electricity grid is old and at the end of its life, it services the wrong areas of the country leaving the windiest regions such as the North of Scotland with few grid connections. The new Beauly-Denny upgrade will replace the existing 132kV line, with a 400kV line. The 132kV transmission network in Scotland was built to connect new hydro generation after the Second World War and now needs to be upgraded to accommodate renewable energy generation.
The upgrade will provide immediate access for 1500 MW of onshore projects that are already in the advanced stages of planning and the first step of 2300 MW in delivery of 8,000 MW of wind power as other grid reinforcements in the north of Scotland follow on. To deliver the 2020 targets other grid reinforcements are planned in other parts of Britain.
By providing access to the excellent renewable energy sources in the North of Scotland and subsequently on the Scottish Islands, the project will help deliver lower cost renewable energy.
Whilst it is important to consider the necessity and environmental impacts of any new electricity transmission line, the process of permitting the Beauly Denny line has been unnecessarily long, as it was first proposed in 2001.
The delay to the line has and will result in delays to renewable energy projects, reduced output from projects during the build and limits realisable reductions in UK emissions.
Beauly Denny also lays the foundations for the development of at least 1420MW of offshore wind, an additional 540MW of onshore wind and 750MW of wave and tidal and will stimulate further project development across the industry.
Nicholson added: “Whilst more grid upgrades will be required to achieve the UK’s carbon reduction targets, this important mile stone provides the green light for the development of a decentralised grid network, and allows the UK to continue to develop its world leading offshore wind, wave and tidal energy industries.”