The British government is planning to streamline the planning system to facilitate the installation of new electricity pylons and overhead cables, in a move to accelerate the integration of renewable energy sources into the country’s electricity network, as reported by Reuters on July 2. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) emphasizes the importance of expanding infrastructure to support the country’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2035 and provide cleaner, cheaper, and more secure homegrown energy. It is taking efforts to reduce the time required for connecting electricity generation projects to the grid. The revised plan is anticipated to be released later this year.
The DESNZ looks to reform the outdated approval process and ineffective project planning system that hold up approvals of new power projects. Data from the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) reveals that the average time taken for large infrastructure projects to obtain planning decisions has increased from 2.6 years to 4.2 years over the past decade. Currently, approximately 330 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generation or storage projects are awaiting grid connection, while only about 2GW has been connected so far this year. Over the next two years, an additional 33GW is expected to join the transmission network. To accommodate a significant increase in power from diverse and complex sources, industry and government projections suggest that the country will require more than 460,000km of new onshore electricity cables by 2050. The anticipated total investment required for the onshore network alone would reach GBP350bn by 2050.