System operator sets out ‘Beyond 2030′ electricity network expansion plan

The Electricity System Operator (ESO) has published a report called “Beyond 2030″, which proposes a £58 billion investment in the electricity grid.
The Beyond 2030 report builds on top of the Holistic Network Design and makes a set of network recommendations throughout the 2030s. The transitional plan is a stepping-stone before the new NESO develops a Centralised Strategic Network Plan which will be published in 2026. The system operator said the recommendations would be optimised to minimise impacts on communities and ensure that they deliver wider benefits.
The report recommends a set of offshore and onshore network upgrades that will facilitate the connection of an extra 21GW of offshore wind, bringing the total to 86GW, as well as other low carbon generation across Britain.
The system operator recommends a new North to South electrical spine further offshore connection along the East coast. It said that by 2035, GB will have one of the most expansive and coordinated offshore grids in the world, with three times more undersea cabling than onshore.

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO, REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology) said:
“…Those dependent on electricity system development know we also need to see the delivery of the broader Strategic Spatial Energy Plan (covering gas, hydrogen and potential CO2 networks (SSEP)), regional plans and full connections reform. All of which requires the new National Energy System Operator to be officially up and running this summer, ensuring real change is delivered as soon as possible.
“The trick now is to convince everyone to play their part. This is just a start, and we urge the UK Government to sponsor and lead the vital communication of the plan nationally – to homes, businesses, industry and generators – highlighting the need and benefits for all walks of society.”

Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive, Energy Networks Association, said; “This plan is an important step in upgrading our grid, which is vital if we are to support greater electrification, the use of more low carbon technologies and increase energy security. To reach our net zero goals we need to maximise the use of existing power infrastructure, operate this infrastructure flexibly and innovatively and build new infrastructure. Alongside this plan, electricity networks are spending and investing around £30bn over this price control period and undertaking the biggest programme of reforms in the history of the grid.”

Barnaby Wharton, Director of Future Electricity Systems, RenewableUK said:
“The measures set out in this ambitious plan put offshore wind at the heart of our future energy system, enabling us to decarbonise our electricity network by 2035 and securing our position as a global leader in this key technology.
“This report shows that building vital new grid will create 20,000 new jobs and boost our economy by £15 billion a year in parts of the country which need regeneration. It also highlights the fact that local communities will have a strong voice in the wide-ranging consultations which will determine how these plans are delivered in a way which minimises environmental impacts , and that local benefit funds will be set up to recognise communities hosting new grid”.

Oz Russell, Industrial Energy Policy Officer at the ADE said: “Consistent underinvestment in UK transmission infrastructure, electricity
demand doubling by 2050, and the vast length of the queue to connect to the grid, all make clear the necessity to build new infrastructure. At the same time, demand flexibility is still being chronically undervalued. Energy flexibility will enable less disruption, lower costs and fewer pylons across the UK, helping to manage network constraints and make the most of the intermittent renewables on the system, both now and in the future.”

Download the full plan here

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