Soaring cost of electricity grid

HUNDREDS of millions of pounds need to be spent in East Anglia in renewing and expanding the electricity grid system to meet the needs of wind power and other "green" technologies, a new report suggests.

HUNDREDS of millions of pounds need to be spent in East Anglia in renewing and expanding the electricity grid system to meet the needs of wind power and other "green" technologies, a new report suggests.

The report, from the Carbon Trust - set up with Government funds to help the UK reduce global warming emissions - maintains there is enough wind power development in the planning stage to achieve the target of 10% of energy needs coming from renewable sources by 2010.

But it warns that about £3 billion worth of investment in the grid system is needed nationally.

Much of the investment will be needed whatever the form of electricity generation because the current grid system was installed 40 years ago and is nearing the end of its operational lifetime.


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But the dispersion of generation sources, in line with Government plans to reduce reliance on large power stations using fossil fuels, means that the grid system has to be expanded.

The Carbon Trust report suggests that there is already enough proposed wind energy development to deliver more than 70% of the 2010 target by 2006.

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However, it warns that action must be taken now to reinforce the grid system if the target is to be reached.

"Planning, design and construction of grid reinforcement can currently take up to ten years, so time is running out," said David Vincent, director of technology for the trust.

He said wind energy was integral to meeting the Government's renewables target but major upgrades of the transmission and distribution system were "urgently" needed to enable wind energy to achieve its full potential.

Bill Richmond, chairman of Ipswich-based Your Energy, a wind power firm, said: "East Anglia's grid network is pretty robust but the infrastrure is pretty old and needs replacement and updating."

There were also "hotspots" - including one around The Wash - where the grid system was already full to capacity.

Mr Richmond said wind energy developers would be among those contributing to the cost of reinforcing the grid system.

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