Wind industry says massive investment plans held up by grid access blockages

Wind industry leaders gathering in London at their annual conference today called on the Government to speed up access to the national grid so that £50 billion of private infrastructure investment could be unleashed over the next 10 years.

With Energy Minister Mike O'Brien addressing the conference delegates heard that the current regulatory regime, headed by Ofgem is limiting the national grid and wind energy companies investing to upgrade the network.

O'Brien had earlier declared that "we need investment in our grid infrastructure to reinforce and expand the existing grid network - both onshore and offshore"

Describing the wind industry as "ready for take-off" O'Brien added that energy infrastructure investment could help lift the economy out of its current downturn. "We need to do what we can to bring forward energy projects to stimulate the economy" he said.

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg and Conservative Shadow Energy Minister Charles Hendry also addressed the conference, and both called on the Government to speed up grid connection for renewables.

Clegg said "The existing grid is inefficient and old fashioned and at current capacity it won't meet future demand".

Hendry said "We accept the need for change to the current system whereby National Grid must connect applications in the order in which they have been made. There should be some recognition in the system of whether planning consent has been given and the speed at which it can move ahead".

Following the speeches, BWEA Chairman Adam Bruce added:

"The wind energy industry is pleased that all three political parties are agreed on the need for investment in the grid and that Mike O'Brien indicated that the Government is considering bringing forward energy projects to stimulate the economy.

"However, just as important as investment is strategic direction for the renewal of the grid.

"The wind energy industry looks to the Government to provide clear guidance to Ofgem to facilitate long-term investment in time to reach our 2020 target, and for Ofgem to approve pro-active, strategic plans to upgrade and expand the grid network, rather than waiting for each individual powerline extension to be approved in the current, ad hoc manner."
Nick Medic

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