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The UK Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Amendment)[1] target to be net zero in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 will require significant increases in low carbon electricity generating infrastructure. The UK Government has ambitious targets relating to the development of offshore wind, solar energy and nuclear power, as well as a target to fully decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035. This, along with policies to drive electrification of transport and heat, is expected to lead to a doubling of electricity demand by 2050.  

National Grid ESO, the electricity system operator for Great Britain, carried out a review of the grid requirements needed to deliver the increase in offshore wind and other low carbon generation. This review, developed in consultation with the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, and other stakeholders, reported in July 2022 with Pathway to 2030[2], which recommended a single, integrated network connecting new offshore wind farms and associated offshore and onshore transmission networks. It was estimated that £54 billion would be needed to deliver the recommendations. In March 2024, the Beyond 2030[3] update was published that estimated an additional £58 billion of investment will be needed to deliver offshore and onshore network upgrades throughout the 2030s.

Each of the three transmission network operators in GB, National Grid ET, SSEN and SP Energy Networks, are committed to delivering the recommendations set out in the Pathway to 2030 report. The report describes the major infrastructure projects either proposed or underway across Great Britain as part of upgrading the transmission network.

In addition to requirements for new electricity transmission infrastructure, developers of all types of low-carbon energy infrastructure have reported long lead times for connection to the GB electricity transmission or distribution networks. In response, the UK Government has introduced its Transmission Acceleration Action Plan[4] and Electricity networks: connection action[5] plan that aim to speed up the delivery of new electricity grid connections.

This briefing describes the current transmission network, demand on the system and planned upgrades.  It also sets out the planning frameworks across GB and proposals to compensate those affected by developments.

[1] The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019

[2] National Grid ESO, Pathway to 2030 (PDF), July 2022

[3] National Grid ESO, Beyond 2030 (PDF), March 2024

[4] GOV.UK, Electricity networks: transmission acceleration action plan, November 2023

[5] GOV.UK, Electricity networks: connection action, November 2023

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