UK Government to invest £960 million in green industries and implement major reform of power network

The UK Government has announced major plans to speed up connections and rapidly increase capacity on the electricity grid along with a £960 million investment in green industries.
UK Government to invest £960 million in green industries and implement major reform of power network
Courtesy of NREL.

Launched by the Chancellor and Energy Security Secretary, the package of measures will increase construction of network infrastructure and speed up grid connections. The measures are a response to the recommendations of Electricity Networks Commissioner, Nick Winser CBE, aiming to halve the time it takes to build high-voltage power lines from 14 years to seven. 

The Connections Action Plan will cut the average delay time projects face to connect to the grid from five years to just six months. It will also see the end of the existing ‘first-come, first-served’ system, which had led to a long queue of projects to connect to the grid – holding back low-carbon investment. 

Communities hosting new power infrastructure could benefit directly with lower electricity bills and money for projects in their local areas. They will have the power to decide how this is spent, for example on apprenticeships, energy efficiency measures, local parks or community energy generation. Properties closest to new transmission infrastructure will potentially receive up to £1,000 a year off electricity bills over 10 years. 

The Government has also committed £960 million for the Green Industries Growth Accelerator, which is intended to accelerate advanced manufacturing capacity in key net zero sectors, including offshore wind, networks, carbon capture, usage and storage, hydrogen and nuclear. 

As demand for renewables grows, with international competition across supply chains, the Government wants to make sure the UK has the right conditions for further investment and growth. It claims that the flagship Contracts for Difference scheme and the £20 billion recently committed to develop carbon capture, usage and storage has attracted investment of £200 billion since 2010 and that a further £100 billion is expected by 2030, supporting up to 480,000 skilled jobs across the country. 

The government expects the new package announced at the Autumn Statement to bring forward £90 billion of investment over the next 10 years, aimed at ensuring that the country’s infrastructure is fit for the green industries of the future.   

“We have set out the most radical plans to update the grid since the 1950s – speeding up connections and rapidly increasing capacity” said Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho. “As we move away from unreliable imports to cheaper, home-grown energy, we’re boosting the grid so that it can meet our expanding electricity needs which are expected to have doubled by 2050. This will drive down bills while bringing forward £90 billion of investment over the next decade. We’ll also reward those living closest to new infrastructure with up to £1000 a year off their energy bills, while communities will get at least £200,000 to spend on local projects that matter the most to them.”

The Connections Action Plan, published jointly with Ofgem, will overhaul the way projects access the electricity grid, releasing over 100 GW of capacity from the grid connections queue. Equivalent to around a quarter of the electricity needed to power the British economy in 2050.

A ‘first-ready, first-connected’ approach will also be established, ensuring speculative and slow-moving projects are removed from the queue and supporting viable projects to connect when they are ready.

A triage service will be established to work closely and at pace with relevant investors, network companies and Ofgem to support accelerated connections for strategically-important demand customers, such as new industrial developments. 

The programme of reform recommended by the Electricity Networks Commissioner to build new networks faster will support the delivery of up to 50 GW of offshore wind power by 2030. It includes a Strategic Spatial Energy Plan, which will enable better decision-making on the location of energy system infrastructure to create a more efficient, lower cost system. This is aimed at increasing certainty for investors and industry, and giving every community a say, with potential benefits offered to communities hosting new transmission infrastructure. The plan will be produced through close working between the Government and the ESO (and Future System Operator once established), in consultation with Ofgem, and act as a reference for the creation of a transmission network blueprint in the Centralised Strategic Network Plan. 

The Government will publish guidance next year, enabling residents to decide how to fund projects in their area, such as education initiatives for young people, local parks or community energy generation, electric vehicle charging points or energy efficiency measures. 

National Policy Statements – the bedrock of planning major new energy projects in England and Wales – have been strengthened to make clear that the planning system must treat low carbon energy infrastructure as a Critical National Priority.  

To further support new renewables investment, electricity generators who take a substantive decision to proceed with new projects after 22 November 2023 will have an exemption from the Electricity Generator Levy (EGL) on revenues from those projects.

For additional information:

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero     

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