Electricity Grid Commissioner Nick Winser. Image: gov.uk

Electricity Grid Commissioner Nick Winser. Image: gov.uk

Trade body Solar Energy UK has welcomed the report by Electricity Grid Commissioner Nick Winser recommending ways to accelerate grid infrastructure build time.

The report outlines 18 recommendations to halve the time it takes to upgrade grid infrastructure like transmission cables, which can currently take 12-14 years from identification to commissioning. 

The resulting ‘congestion’ in the energy grid has meant that up to 230GW of projects are currently in line to connect to the power grid. Winser’s report calls for the establishment of the Future Systems Operator, which should then assess the scope for flexibility markets. 

Our sister site Current± covered all the recommendations of Winser’s report last Friday. 

Winser called for a “dramatic increase” in electricity transmission infrastructure and the speed of its deployment, a call welcomed by Solar Energy UK’s director of policy and delivery, Gemma Grimes.  

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, Grimes also cautioned that “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.”  

Winser is the former chair of the Energy Systems Catapult, who also welcomed the report.

Winser’s report calls for the establishment of a Strategic Spatial Energy Plan for Great Britain which would forecast long term supply and demand and cut the time to construct transmission infrastructure to 7 years.  

Solar Energy UK particularly welcomed Recommendation 8 on new ‘Electricity Transmission Design Principles’, which it said “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.” 

The body said there was also the need for a public information campaign on the need to upgrade the grid, following on from a public attitudes survey recently commissioned by Solar Energy UK which found low public awareness of the necessity for grid upgrades.