Wednesday, 6 May 2009

£4.7 billion needed for power grid

A study has indicated that Britain needs to invest up to 4.7 billion pounds to upgrade its electricity grid by 2020 to accommodate new power generation, including renewables and nuclear plants. Among the extensions needed to the grid will be high-voltage subsea cable links between Scotland and England, according to the report by the Electricity Networks Strategy Group.

Mike O'Brien, the energy and climate change minister, said it was vital to build a grid that was "fit for purpose" so that Britain could cut carbon emissions and make supply more secure. "This is a massive long-term investment opportunity and this upgrade work will help support jobs across the low-carbon economy," he added.

In Scotland, the report suggests between 8GW and 11GW of new transmission capacity could be opened up, with one of the key projects being the Beauly-Denny line rebuild, which has been subject to a long-running public inquiry. As per the information available, plans for a £780million series of major investments designed to carry green wind, wave and tidal power from the north of Scotland south to England were outlined.

The UK Government’s Electricity Networks Strategy Group wants an upgrade to the Dounreay to Beauly to Kintore line costing £180million and a strengthened east coast line costing £150million to follow the completion of the controversial proposed Beauly to Denny line. A second wave would include a Caithness to Moray reinforcement costing £450million.

Chris Stubbs, director at environment consultancy WSP, said the £4.7bn bill highlighted the “worryingly high cost” of embracing new energy generation and that the consumer or taxpayer would end up paying.

Ofgem has announced it intends to approve the funds for the pre-construction work on specific transmission projects. It is also developing proposals to make the regulatory regime capable of meeting the renewable challenges.

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