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A $74 Billion Investment Plan for the UK’s Energy System

National Grid ESO, the UK’s power systems operator, is proposing a plan of $73.6 billion (£58 billion) in investment in the grid to meet growing demand and the rise of renewable power sources.

The Electricity System Operator (ESO) published a report, ‘Beyond 2030,’ on Tuesday, which says that the UK would need these investments to accommodate the rise in wind and solar power and an overall rise in electricity demand amid growing electrification and decarbonization in many sectors, including transportation.

“The current electricity grid is reaching its capacity and is unable to transport much more electricity without reinforcing the network,” ESO said in the report.

The plan, ESO says, supports decarbonization, jobs, and economic growth as it would enable a fully decarbonized electricity system in Britain by 2035, in line with the country’s current target.

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, National Grid said.

ESO also recommended in its report an expansion of the offshore grid and a new north-to-south electrical spine.

While National Grid ESO recommends the massive investment, it has not mentioned where the money would come from.

The next steps would be for both industry stakeholders and the UK’s energy regulator, Ofgem, to review the system operator’s recommendations. 

“Depending on a recommendation’s maturity, this can involve testing alternative on and offshore solutions, further developing cable routing and technology choices,” ESO said.

The investment plan – if entertained by industry and regulators – will depend on many variables, including the UK’s energy policy after the general election expected to be held at some point later this year.

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Earlier this month, Britain’s Conservative government warned that the UK would need more natural gas-fired power plants in the future to avoid blackouts.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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