Power plan

Industry wants more pylons to carry clean energy

Engineer working on power lines
Scottish Renewables wants more pylons

Scotland is facing a new battle between conservationists and power firms after a renewables group called for more pylons and cables to meet clean energy demands.

Lobby group Scottish Renewables, which represents companies in the sector, said new infrastructure was required to transmit the electricity generated by green power sources and help to develop “a clean energy future”.

It comes as the Strathpeffer and Contin Better Cable Route group is challenging the power giant SSEN over a proposed network of pylons that will run for about 100 miles from Spittal in Caithness to Beauly, near Inverness.

Scottish Renewables said there is a need to be “upfront and honest” about the need for updated infrastructure, noting a National Grid estimate that “five times more transmission lines need to be built by 2030 than have been built in the past 30 years, at a cost of more than £50 billion”.

In a report, Scottish Renewables said: “Scotland is the UK’s renewable energy powerhouse. Our winds, tides, rainfall and longer daylight hours already provide tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of economic activity.

“But we’re being held back from doing more by an electricity grid designed for fossil fuels almost a century ago.”

It said wind farm electricity is half the price of gas power and building more pylons, power lines and substations would mean more clean power can be produced from renewables like wind and solar and cut energy bills.

Scottish Renewables argues that every mile of overhead power line built enables enough renewable energy generation to displace more than 10,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking 7,600 cars off the road.

Investment in the transmission network has “remained flat and even decreased since 2017,” the report said.

It added: “We must build more power lines, pylons and substations to carry that cheap power to the people who need it — including to people in Scotland.

“Electricity demand is set to increase by 50% in the next decade and double by mid-century, so it’s wrong to say that Scottish households don’t need more power lines, pylons and substations. We need them to ensure our lights stay on in the same way consumers elsewhere in the UK need them.

“With abundant natural resources, Scotland’s home-grown renewables can be at the heart of delivering the clean energy needed to end our reliance on imported, expensive fossil fuel.

“To do this, we need a national electricity grid capable of transmitting more electricity where and when it is needed.”

Nick Sharpe, director of communications and strategy at Scottish Renewables, said the existing electricity network was “not fit for purpose”.

He added: “Groups and individuals who object to the construction of power lines, pylons and substations largely do so because they do not like the way they look.

“By the end of this year, there will be just over 70 months left to achieve our targets of 11 gigawatts offshore and 12 gigawatts onshore wind.

“To ensure we maximise the enormous socioeconomic benefits this will bring to local communities, we will need a grid fit for the 21st century.”

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