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    Steps outlined to decarbonise UK power by National Grid

    National Grid is urging for changes to the planning system, centered around a comprehensive clean energy strategy, in order for the UK to meet its goal of decarbonizing the power system by 2035.


    In a recent report titled “Delivering for 2035: Upgrading the grid for a secure, clean and affordable energy future,” National Grid emphasizes that achieving decarbonization by 2035 will require a “fundamental step-change” in the scale and pace of delivering new electricity network infrastructure.


    The report identifies five crucial areas that require attention to revolutionize the UK’s electricity networks.


    The first area of priority is reforming the planning system, which necessitates the completion of the National Policy Statements by the summer. This initial step aims to provide “greater clarity and authority on the need, pace and urgency of energy related Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs)”.


    Additional measures related to planning involve streamlining the current consent process for major energy projects. This includes reducing decision-making timeframes and aligning them with the regulatory framework. Another proposed measure is the establishment of a “Strategic Spatial Energy Plan” by 2025, which will outline the required construction, locations, and timelines for energy infrastructure.


    The second focus area involves ensuring that the regulatory and governance framework is properly established for effective implementation. This includes reviewing the objectives and responsibilities of existing regulators and clarifying roles and duties across institutions accountable for the energy transition. The report also calls for the enhancement of Ofgem’s statutory obligations to explicitly support the achievement of net zero emissions and resilience.


    The third area emphasizes transforming how clean energy projects connect to the grid to expedite the transition to net zero. National Grid proposes a shift from the current “first come, first served” approach to a “connect or move” process, with stricter criteria for connection applications.


    Projects that are unable to connect would be redirected to prevent hindering or delaying others. The report also suggests the development of strategic “capacity hubs” to facilitate a coordinated and innovative approach to connections. These hubs would identify capacity needs through spatial planning and establish a fast-track connection pathway for critical net zero projects, prioritizing areas with the highest economic value.


    Overall, National Grid’s report highlights the urgent need for reforms in planning, regulation, and grid connection processes to achieve the ambitious goal of decarbonizing the UK’s power system by 2035.


    Responding to the report, RenewableUK’s director of future electricity systems Barnaby Wharton said “Reforming the planning system to make it more agile is long overdue to ensure that decisions about clean energy infrastructure are taken faster more swiftly.”


    “We can’t carry on waiting for up to 10 years to connect new projects to the grid at a time when we should be prioritising Britain’s energy security.”


    “Instead, we need to anticipate where grid is going to be needed, so infrastructure is in place as soon as it’s required.”


    “Giving Ofgem a new mandate to put delivering net zero at the heart of every decision it takes will help revolutionise the speed at which the UK could build a grid that is fit for purpose in the 21st Century.”


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