Investment vital to build 21st century grid

RenewableUK, the country’s leading renewable energy trade association, has stated that proposed vital spending on upgrading the National Grid is a once in a generation opportunity to build a 21st century transmission network, which could accommodate the increasing input from geographically diverse low carbon sources.

Commenting on the press statement by industry watchdog Ofgem today, RenewableUK emphasized that the proposed £32 billion for integrating energy technologies such as wind energy, nuclear and micro-generation will not only strengthen UK’s energy independence, but in the long term bring greater savings to consumers, compared to continuing with inefficient and polluting fossil fuels.

The industry has highlighted that the proposed grid improvements will utilise smart grid innovations, which will make supply from low carbon technologies more responsive to customer demand, promising further cost savings. A substantial portion of the £32 billion investment is also earmarked to significantly upgrade the UK’s gas transmission network.

Dr Gordon Edge, RenewableUK’s Director of Policy, said:

"Our electricity grid is over a 100 years old and out of date, having grown to accommodate centralised thermal power generation. However, both the geographical spread and the nature of the technologies is changing. We will have a greater input from renewable sources effectively managed by the latest technologies available, such as the smart grid.

We have a once in a generation opportunity to build a fit-for-purpose and efficient transmission network, reflecting the emerging low carbon energy mix, which will serve the UK consumers well into the 21st century. This network will both bring cost savings in the long term, and ensure our energy independence."

Over the next decade around a quarter of UK’s out of date coal and nuclear generating capacity is set to be retired. By 2020 the Government sees a contribution of around 30% of all UK electricity from renewables, up from around just under 10% currently.

"The energy mix is changing. Currently, we have around 75% of our electricity supplied from fossil fuels. However, beyond 2020 we will be moving towards an 80% decarbonised electricity supply, which can only be good for the country as a whole. Upgrading the grid is key to achieving this", concluded Edge.

RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with 640 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK. Wind has been the world’s fastest-growing renewable energy source for the last seven years, and this trend is expected to continue with falling costs of wind power and the urgent international need to tackle CO2 emissions to prevent climate change.