Homeowners in the UK should be offered “generous compensation” if they agree to have power lines built near their houses, a new report published on Friday suggests.
The report, written by Electricity Networks Commissioner Nick Winser, sets out plans that could aid the country in speeding up the expansion of its electricity network as pressure to accommodate energy from renewables grows.
It proposes 18 measures that the government could take to help clear the grid backlog, finding that “every part” of the grid upgrade process “must – and can – be dramatically improved”. Recommendations include offering lump sum payments to those living near new pylons, which it said could reduce ongoing opposition to new expansion projects and “streamline” the planning and regulatory processes.
Currently, renewable energy sources including wind farms and solar arrays are stuck waiting to be hooked up to the UK’s electricity grid for up to 15 years. The delays threaten to undermine the work put in to expand renewables, including investment from the government into renewables projects across the country.
Energy Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC on Thursday that the government plans to halve the time it takes for more power lines to be built across the UK. The report confirms this claim, suggesting it would be possible for new power lines to be built in half the current time, and confirms that, while challenging, speeding up the construction of electricity transmission lines is “vital and achievable”.
National Grid has said that five times more power lines need to be built in the next seven years than have been constructed in the past 30 but that power reforms will be required. Carl Trowell, president of UK strategic infrastructure at National Grid, said in a statement that the report is “both timely and welcome, following our recent launch of the Great Grid Upgrade, the largest overhaul of the electricity transmission grid in generations, with significant new infrastructure planned across England and Wales”.
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Minister for Networks and Nuclear Andrew Bowie said his department “will be considering Nick Winser’s recommendations closely”.
Rebecca Barnett, director of networks at UK energy regulator Ofgem, said: “We need bold reforms to accelerate the delivery of electricity transmission infrastructure needed to end the reliance on fossil fuels for power by 2035.”
Nick Winser was appointed as the UK’s first Electricity Networks Commissioner in July last year, as the government looks to “dramatically reduce” the time it takes for renewable or low-carbon projects to be hooked up to electricity infrastructure.