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In June 2019, the UK Parliament passed into law a legally-binding commitment to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  

Put simply, ‘Net Zero’ means removing the same amount of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere as we put into it, to help protect the environment from climate change. 

This commitment means many changes to the way we live, such as electric vehicles replacing petrol and diesel vehicles over the next few years. 

The decarbonisation of our energy system is another essential part of this, and as a country, we are already making progress. 

Great Britain is home to the largest operating offshore wind capacity in the world, with around 8.5 gigawatts (GW) in operation and a further 1.9GW under construction. We recently broke the record for the longest period without burning coal since 1882 – and in recent years, more of our energy has come from renewables than fossil fuels. 

Moving away from burning fossil fuels means more investment in lower-carbon technologies, such as wind turbines and nuclear, for the production of electricity. The Government’s Energy White Paper outlines an ambitious plan to increase the energy delivered by offshore wind to 40GW by 2030 – enough to power every home in the UK.  

The Climate Change Committee anticipates that electricity demand will at least double by 2050 as we shift to clean energy to charge electric vehicles, heat our homes and power our industry. The Committee estimates that, as a country, we will need more than 100GW of offshore wind to meet Net Zero by 2050, providing opportunities for growth and job creation across Great Britain.  

Up to 250,000 jobs could be created by 2030 in the expanding green energy sector, including up to 60,000 through offshore wind alone. By 2050, our own analysis indicates that the energy sector needs to fill around 400,000 jobs to build the Net Zero energy workforce

To accommodate this huge increase in energy on our network, we will need to upgrade our energy transmission infrastructure. Our teams at National Grid Electricity Transmission are working hard to make this possible, combining the best of British engineering and ingenuity with smart technology to bring power to the nation. We are working with the Government and our stakeholders to design network solutions that can facilitate the development of offshore wind at scale, minimise the impact of our infrastructure on local communities, and deliver value for our consumers. 

Why do we need to strengthen our network to and from Scotland and the North East of England?

The shallow waters and regular wind flow of the North Sea make it ideal for the development of offshore wind on a large scale. As offshore wind generation grows towards 40GW in line with Government commitments and the drive towards Net Zero by 2050, and more onshore wind generation is connected in Scotland, power flows between Scotland and England are increasing, placing growing pressure on the network.  

More subsea interconnectors (cables that share electricity between countries) are also being developed across the North Sea to the North East. This could result in a growth of over 6GW of low carbon generation - the equivalent of two modern nuclear power plants. This means that there is a need to reinforce the transmission system in Yorkshire to ensure that this low-carbon energy can move through the network to meet demand across Yorkshire and Great Britain.  

Some of the projects that will be bringing cleaner, greener energy onto the electricity network include: 

  • Scotland England Green Link (SEGL) 1: 2GW offshore link from Torness in East Lothian to Hawthorn Pit in County Durham 

  • Continental Link Interconnector: 1.8GW interconnector (with Norway) and additional offshore wind connecting at Creyke Beck, near Hull 

  • Atlantic Superconnection: 1GW interconnector (with Iceland) also connecting at Creyke Beck 

  • Hornsea P4: 2.6GW offshore wind also connecting at Creyke Beck 

Why upgrade and reinforce the network in this particular part of Yorkshire?  

The Yorkshire GREEN project is a proposal by National Grid Electricity Transmission to provide a new link on the transmission system by upgrading and reinforcing the electricity transmission system in Yorkshire. 

With power flows set to double within the next ten years, Yorkshire GREEN is needed to allow energy to flow securely and efficiently on the network in the North and North East of England, balancing and maintaining supply and demand. The project will link up two existing overhead transmission lines, allowing additional energy to flow north to south. This will increase network capacity and flexibility. 

At the moment there are two double circuit transmission lines connecting the north east part of the North England regional transmission system to the southern parts. Without additional reinforcement to help strengthen the network in Yorkshire and provide extra capacity for the increased power flows, the existing transmission system would become overloaded. 

To stop these overloads from happening, National Grid Electricity System Operator (NGESO) would need to constrain power generation – paying a generator not to produce power in one area to reduce congestion around a particular point of the transmission network. 

This type of action is known as a ‘constraint cost’. To balance demand and supply, NGESO might also need to pay another generator elsewhere to produce power to make up the shortfall. 

The National Electricity Transmission System – the ‘grid’ – links different parts of the country together across system ‘boundaries’, which divide the network into sections surrounding major sources of generation, transmission route corridors and areas of energy demand. 

We need to transfer power between these boundaries, because generation and demand are typically in different locations. For example, most offshore wind farms connect to the network a long way from major towns and cities.