Over the past few months, we’ve been engaging with government on the need to address grid connectivity. And our 2023 Autumn Budget submission, sent to the Chancellor in early September, made grid connectivity one of our main asks.
We wanted the government to:
- publish a new National Policy Statement for Energy Networks
- set out the grid infrastructure needed across the country through a Strategic Spatial Energy Plan.
- replace the first-come, first-served model in grid connection queues with a system that considers achievement/outcome of project milestones.
The Prime Minister committed to publish the UK's first ever energy spatial plan and to end the first-come, first-served approach to grid connections as part of his net zero announcement on 20 September.
But why are they important?
- Lengthy and uncertain timelines are halting inward investment: Global investment in electricity grids is increasing rapidly. The International Energy Agency is predicting annual investment will more than double by 2030. But many investors have an issue with delivery timescales in the UK, with wait times of over a decade for new projects to come online.
- We’re lagging behind international competitors: The US’ Inflation Reduction Act has allocated $3bn to support the buildout of transmission lines across the US. Spain is investing nearly €7bn into a five year “Electricity Transmission Grid Plan” with the aim to cut new connection times to 2-3 months, and plan future transmission needs.
- We’re missing out on £billions in economic growth: The grid isn’t just a vital enabling infrastructure for the rollout of low carbon technologies and power at scale. If we invest early enough in developing a future-proof, flexible, and digitised grid, CBI analysis shows the UK could capture between £6.5bn and £18bn in services export by 2030.
And it’s not just energy companies that need it.
This is an issue that so many of our members are talking about. Like the housing developer who faces delays to construction, and higher costs, because the requirement for electric car charging points in not supported by grid infrastructure. Or the British manufacturer that has invested £2m on laying new cable to secure grid connections as it works to decarbonise one of its sites – but now faces an 18 month delay. Or the many firms who have had to scale back on-site, solar panel generation projects because of local grid capacity.
So what happens next?
Following the PM’s announcement, our campaign ahead of the Autumn Statement will now focus on making good on his commitments. Our members, as ever, will be focused on the detail and speed of implementation.
Our submission also puts forward recommendations from our Going for Green report, showing how we can outsmart rather than outspend the US and Europe on green growth initiatives.