The UK government is planning to “halve” the time it takes to deliver power lines needed for new renewable energy projects.
Energy security and net zero secretary Grant Shapps who met energy leaders including EDF, Shell and BP in Downing Street today to discuss renewables, told the BBC that he will reveal proposals to speed up the rollout of such infrastructure on Friday.
His comments come after the UK Electricity Networks Commissioner, energy expert Nick Winser, presented a long-awaited report to the government on how this can be achieved.
Winser’s report is expected to propose how to turbo charge planning processes for infrastructure including pylons, underground cabling and substations.
The UK National Grid is currently carrying out the “Great Grid Upgrade,” which it describes as the largest overhaul of the electricity grid in “generations.” It aims to help connect renewable energy from new wind and solar projects to homes in England and Wales.
However such infrastructure has in many cases been met with fierce opposition, particularly in East Anglia in the UK’s southeast. Plans here for a new 180km chain of pylons have united campaigners, celebrities and even government ministers in opposition against the works.
The groups say they are not opposed to green energy but that the infrastructure is an eyesore that will also cause environmental damage locally.
The pylons would carry electricity from offshore wind farms on the UK’s eastern coast down to near London, where it can then be used in the capital.
Campaigners have also challenged plans for two substations being built as part of Iberdrola’s $8bn North Sea wind farm in the courts.
Shapps told the World at One on BBC Radio 4 that he would be issuing the recommendations of the report on Friday along with “some government immediate response”.
"The idea is to halve the amount of time it takes to get these connections going,” he said.
Winser has previously told the UK parliament that he would propose how to chop the delivery time for such projects from around 14 years to seven.
He said this could help the government reach its ambition to decarbonise the grid by 2035, although warned that many projects already underway would have to go through existing processes.
Ana Musat, executive director of industry group RenewableUK who attended the meeting in Downing Street, said “we are all aware that prioritising the roll-out of cheap, homegrown renewable energy projects is essential to strengthen Britain’s energy security.”
She called on the government to ensure a “consistent pipeline” of renewables projects in order to “maximise the opportunities of supply chain investment in areas where the UK has a competitive advantage, such as floating wind, cables and blades.”