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£58bn investment plan in the future of Britain’s energy system

4C Offshore | Chloe Emanuel
By: Chloe Emanuel 19/03/2024 National Grid ESO

ESO publishes investment plan for future energy system: The Electricity System Operator (ESO) has published today a report called "Beyond 2030", which proposes a £58 billion investment in the electricity grid to meet the growing and decarbonising demand for electricity in Great Britain by 2035.

This investment will allow Britain to exploit the economic potential as a leader in offshore wind by moving the power to where it is needed. Plan connects further 21GW of offshore wind in development off the coast of Scotland to the grid in an efficient and coordinated way. This would mean that there would be 86 GW of offshore wind, making Britain a global leader in offshore wind and floating offshore windfarms.

For comparison, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) states that there is currently 63GW of offshore wind installed globally. In total there will be over 30 GW of offshore wind in Scottish waters compared to 6 GW of peak electricity demand in Scotland in 2035. The plan moves that power to where it can be used – both around Scotland and across Britain.

ESO's plan supports decarbonisation, jobs, and economic growth: ESO's plan enables a fully decarbonised electricity system by 2035, in line with the Sixth Carbon Budget. The plan could also create and sustain over 20,000 jobs annually, with 90% of the benefits occurring outside London and the Southeast, according to independent research.

ESO's plan requires swift and coordinated action: ESO's report stresses the need for swift and coordinated action across the energy sector, government, the regulator, and communities to deliver the network infrastructure in time to meet 2035. 

ESO recommends an expansion of the offshore grid and a new North to South electrical spine: Offshore windfarms in development off the coast of Scotland will have their green energy transported via a new electrical spine spanning potentially from Peterhead to Merseyside, supplying homes and businesses across Scotland and North England with homegrown electricity, however this is an early-stage option which will require further consideration and consultation. 

ESO is also recommending further offshore bootstraps along the East coast of Britain. 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.
Further design optimisation, innovation and community engagement will be undertaken to ensure that the needs of different communities and wider economic and system security needs are balanced.

Fintan Slye, Executive Director of ESO said: "Great Britain’s electricity system is the backbone of our economy and must be fit for our future. ESO’s Beyond 2030 network design outlines recommendations on the investment needed and how and where to coordinate the build of this new critical national infrastructure."

Slye continued: "To deliver the clean, secure, decarbonised system set out by Government and Devolved Governments we must take swift, coordinated and lasting action working collaboratively across all parts of the energy sector, government, the regulator and within our communities."

To access more information on subsea cables for offshore wind and interconnector projects, as well as transmission intelligence, click here.


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