The three GB electricity transmission owners (TOs) – National Grid Electricity Transmission, SSEN Transmission and SP Transmission – welcome today’s publication by National Grid ESO of the ‘Pathway to 2030’ documents, which sets out the blueprint for the grid infrastructure required to deliver 2030 offshore wind targets and a pathway to net zero emissions.
This sets out the onshore and offshore electricity transmission network infrastructure, the motorways of the energy system, that are required to accommodate the forecast growth in renewable electricity across GB. This includes the grid infrastructure needed to deliver the UK and Scottish Governments 2030 offshore wind targets of 50GW and 11GW respectively.
This will see the development of four subsea high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) links connecting the east coasts of Scotland and England, creating a subsea superhighway of electricity transmission that is key to unlock the initial phase of ScotWind generation and transport that clean power to centres of demand across GB. It also confirms the need for several other major onshore and offshore reinforcements that are key to delivering Government targets and a pathway to net zero.
With certainty of the reinforcements needed to meet 2030 targets now established, the three TOs will move into the detailed network design stage of the development process. This will include extensive stakeholder engagement and public consultation, alongside relevant environmental assessments, to help inform potential routes and technology options. With individual projects at different stages of the development phase, the TOs are fully committed to build on engagement already undertaken with local communities and wider stakeholders to help shape the development of these reinforcements.
This unprecedented level of investment in renewing and reinforcing the country’s critical national infrastructure will also provide a major economic boost across GB, supporting thousands of highly skilled jobs across the industry and many more throughout the energy supply chain and wider economy, providing significant job opportunities and local and national economic benefits.
Alice Delahunty President of National Grid Electricity Transmission said: “A central and coordinated plan for the Government's 2030 and net zero targets is essential, and the Pathway to 2030 published today is an important step in that process.
“It shows the significant volume of new electricity networks required to transmit clean, green energy across Great Britain. In partnership with stakeholders and our supply chain, work has already begun to deliver many of these projects, however, to continue to deliver on Government's world-leading ambitions and timelines we need the right policy and regulatory frameworks. We will now work together with BEIS, Ofgem and the ESO to put these in place.
“The public understand and support the benefits this massive investment could bring – cheaper and more secure energy, jobs, skills and progress towards net zero – but there are genuine concerns that need to be addressed about the local impact of hosting infrastructure.
“The Government has committed to a consultation on how communities can benefit from these developments.
“We are very pleased to see the importance of community views being recognised and will work with them, and Government, as the consultation moves forward.”
Rob McDonald, Managing Director of SSEN Transmission, said: “Today’s publication of the Pathway to 2030 marks a huge step forward for those wanting an electricity system independent of imported gas and capable of connecting the huge renewable energy potential of wind energy needed to meet legally binding emissions reduction targets as we continue to deliver a network for net zero emissions in the north of Scotland.
“With over £7bn of investment in grid infrastructure in the north of Scotland alone, this blueprint can unlock Scotland’s vast offshore wind resources, with this major investment also providing huge economic opportunities for communities across the north of Scotland, supporting thousands of skilled jobs. The investments signalled today will also reduce our dependence on, and price exposure to, volatile global wholesale markets, helping deliver long term energy affordability.
“Key to accelerating delivery of this unprecedented programme of investment will be a robust regulatory framework that fast tracks regulatory approvals as a package of works, provides certainty of delivery, alongside reform of the planning system to expedite consenting.
“We now look forward to working constructively with the UK and Scottish Governments, Ofgem, our supply chain, the wider energy industry and our stakeholders to deliver the timely, coordinated and efficient investment in grid infrastructure that is key to deliver 2030 targets and a pathway to net zero.”
Frank Mitchell, CEO SP Energy Networks, said: “The HND publication is a major milestone for the industry and provides a clear view of the strategic network infrastructure projects, both onshore and offshore, that will be needed to meet the UK’s 2030 offshore wind ambitions.
“The network requirements that this HND presents must now be recognised as the ‘network’ blueprint for the required transmission network capacity to meet 2030 ambitions. This blueprint will enable early engagement with our stakeholders and supply chain on our major infrastructure projects.
“2030 is not far away. We therefore look forward to working immediately with Government and Ofgem to agree upon ways in which key changes can be made to the regulatory approvals and planning processes to ensure that delivery of this key strategic transmission infrastructure can be accelerated in line with 2030 ambitions. We welcome the pragmatic approach of Government and Ofgem in being prepared to consider new and more flexible ways in which the delivery of strategic infrastructure can be delivered, and we look forward to engaging with them further on this, in the coming weeks ahead.
“We also look forward to working with ScotWind developers ahead of the HND Refresh exercise, later this year, which the ESO is committed to have completed by Q1 2023.
“The ambition to 2030 is great. We stand ready to work with Government, Ofgem, the ESO and developers to ensure the vision in this HND can be realised, delivering jobs and economic development to Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
The Pathway to 2030 builds on the recent publication of the British Energy Security Strategy, which sets out the UK Government’s plans to reduce the UK’s dependence on – and price exposure to – imported gas via the deployment of homegrown low carbon electricity generation and enabling electricity network infrastructure. To accelerate the deployment of homegrown low carbon generation and the associated grid infrastructure, the BESS commits to expediting regulatory approvals and planning consents, which will be critical to accelerating delivery.
The three TOs welcome the commitments set out the BESS and will continue to work closely with the UK and Scottish Governments, Ofgem, and wider stakeholders to deliver against those commitments, which will need to be underpinned by a robust strategic regulatory framework that provides early regulatory approval of need for the 2030 plan as a GB wide package of works, provide certainty of TO delivery, alongside planning reform to expedite consenting.
Further reinforcements in electricity transmission network infrastructure, beyond those set out in the Pathway to 2030, will be required to achieve net zero. This includes the additional onshore and offshore infrastructure required to unlock ScotWind’s full potential, with details of these infrastructure requirements expected to be published by the ESO in early 2023 as a follow up exercise to the HND.
To find out more about the Pathway to 2030, please visit https://www.nationalgrideso.com/future-energy/the-pathway-2030-holistic-network-design
Senior External Affairs Manager