National Grid reveals £58bn plan to boost power

Infrastructure will allow offshore wind output to increase to 30GW by 2030

National Grid has announced a new north-south transmission ‘spine’ to link Scottish wind farms with the main centres of power demand in the south of England, as part of a £58bn investment plan to turbocharge the electricity network.

The Beyond 2030 document, published on 19 March, outlines how the Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO) proposes to accommodate the government’s target to boost offshore wind output to 30GW by 2030.

The ESO’s plan facilitates the connection of an additional 21GW of offshore wind, due to be delivered as a result of the Crown Estate’s ScotWind seabed leasing round.

An update to the ESO’s 2022 Holistic Network Design document, Beyond 2030 envisages more than three times as much undersea cabling being laid than with new onshore routes, directly linking electricity being produced offshore. This includes multiple offshore ‘bootstrap’ lines running along the east coast, the longest of which would link a windfarm off the coast of north Scotland with Kent.

In addition, the grid between northeast Scotland and northwest England would have to be reinforced to provide north-south transfer of power, which could form a new ‘arterial’ transmission route. The plan includes the first transmission line linking north and south Wales.

The publication identifies regions of strategic importance, where large-scale demand users – such as hydrogen electrolysers or data centres – could be located as an alternative to building additional network infrastructure.

The ESO estimates that the UK will need 20-25GW of energy storage capacity by 2035 to decarbonise the Grid. Only around 4GW was operational at the end of 2023.