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The UK will need a $70 billion grid revamp to work with sustainable power sources. Who pays?



National Grid ESO, the UK’s electricity system operator, is proposing a plan for 67 billion euros (70 billion USD) (£58 billion) of investment in the grid to meet growing demand and increase renewable energy sources.

The Electricity System Operator (ESO) released its ‘Beyond 2030′ report on Tuesday, which states that the UK would need these investments to meet the rise in wind and solar power and the general increase in demand for electricity amid increasing electrification and decarbonization in many sectors, including transport.
“The current electricity grid is reaching its capacity and is unable to transport much more electricity without reinforcing the grid,” the ESO said in the report.

The plan, according to the ESO, supports decarbonization, jobs, and economic growth, as it would enable a fully decarbonized electricity system in Britain by 2035, in line with the country’s current target.

The plan could also create and sustain more than 20,000 jobs a year, with 90 percent of the benefits outside London and the southeast, according to independent research, National Grid said.

In its report, the ESO also recommended an expansion of the offshore grid and a new power line from north to south.

Beautiful plan: who pays?

Unfortunately, the ESO’s plan fails to indicate one essential point: who will finance the grid transformation. Whether it will be debt, citizens’ taxes, or increased bills. While this has no weight in the view of the green utopia, a lot of it is in the pockets of citizens.

The next step will be a review of the system operator’s recommendations by industry stakeholders and the U.K. energy regulator, Ofgem.

“Depending on the maturity of a recommendation, this may involve testing alternative onshore and offshore solutions, further development of the cable route, and technology choices,” the ESO said.

The industry’s and regulators’ acceptance of the investment plan hinges on a number of factors, one of which is the UK’s energy policy following the general election later this year.

Earlier this month, the UK Conservative government warned that the UK will need more natural gas-fired power plants in the future to avoid blackouts, which is a very strange way to decarbonize.

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