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Solar sector backs plan to overhaul management of the power grid

Solar Energy UK

7 August 2023

Solar Energy UK strongly supports the recommendations of the Electricity Grid Commissioner Nick Winser for a more strategic approach to developing electricity networks.[1]

In his letter and accompanying report to Government, published on Friday, he called for a “dramatic increase” in electricity transmission infrastructure and the speed at which it is delivered.

Too few transmission lines have been built over the past 30 years, and expectations are that, without intervention, it would take 12-14 years to build new ones, from conception to commissioning, he concluded.

Winser’s recommendations seek to “reduce energy bills as much and as quickly as possible.” His report also recognises that, without reform, the grid network will continue to act as an impediment to net zero, powered by affordable renewable energy, due to shortages of grid capacity. This has led to long waiting times extending far into the 2030s, making some solar farms and commercial-scale rooftop solar projects financially unviable.[2]

Solar Energy UK Director of Policy and Delivery Gemma Grimes said: “We greatly support the recommendations and agree that they are needed to reduce the delivery time for strategic transmission to around seven years. Any longer than seven years risks jeopardising the attainment of net zero. The changes must be taken forward as a package to be most effective.”

However, “Delivering the plan ultimately depends on Ofgem, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, the planning system and government as a whole, fully backing the accelerated delivery of net zero – and enabling transmission and distribution network operators rather than constraining them,” she added.

Winser said that the key response to the grid challenge should be to draw up a ‘Strategic Spatial Energy Plan’ for Great Britain to forecast supply and demand and slash the timescale for construction to seven years.

SEUK is particularly supports Recommendation 8; the creation of new ‘Electricity Transmission Design Principles’. This should result in a clearer, more open and more transparent process for proposing new grid infrastructure and the consideration of its merits by the Planning Inspectorate.

Related to this, we support the delivery of a public information campaign on the need to upgrade the grid, as per Recommendation 12. Copper Consultancy’s recent report on attitudes to solar farms demonstrates that the general public has little awareness of why this is necessary.[3]

We also back the “major review of engineering and technician skills” proposed by Recommendation 15. Without an appropriately trained and skilled workforce in grid infrastructure at all scales, the country will be unable to connect the Government’s 70GW solar capacity target by 2035.  This, in turn, would mean a lost opportunity for thousands of additional green jobs.

Answering the skills and grid challenges are two of the prime focus areas for the government-industry Solar Taskforce, set to deliver its roadmap for 2035 early next year.[4]

[1] Accelerating electricity transmission network deployment: Electricity Networks Commissioner’s recommendations

[2] Solar farms face 20-year waits for a connection to the grid

[3] Solar farms more popular than ever but myths threaten ability to tackle climate and ecological disaster

[4] Solar Taskforce drives forward on grid access, supply chain, skills and the rooftop market

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Editor’s notes:

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Gareth Simkins, Senior Communications Adviser |