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National Grid Funding: South-west England

Volume 737: debated on Tuesday 19 September 2023

Electricity networks’ funding is regulated by Ofgem through the network price control. In the current price control, National Grid Electricity Transmission will be investing approximately £700 million in the south-west. Ofgem has allowed £5.7 billion for the distribution network company covering the south-west, £1.2 billion of which is for the south-west region specifically.

May I declare an interest, as one of my brilliant little sisters works in the renewable energy sector? I want to see more renewable energy schemes get off the ground in the far south-west, but I am being told that schemes greater than 1 MW have to wait until 2027 at the earliest for a grid connection. This means that dozens of renewable energy schemes are gathering dust on paper, when they should be generating clean power. It is wrong and is setting back our net zero ambitions. What are Ministers doing to speed up grid connections for renewable energy schemes, allowing us to build the already approved clean energy schemes that we need, which will create green jobs, cut carbon and reduce soaring energy bills?

As the Minister for Energy Security and Net Zero, my right hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart) suggests from a sedentary position, we are doing lots and lots. Specifically, the Government are using strategic planning to support investment ahead of the need in the networks, including the south-west. The first example of that was last year’s holistic network design, which set out a blueprint for connecting new offshore wind projects to the grid by 2030. An update to the holistic network design follow-up exercise, HND 2, will be published early next year and provide recommendations for the connection of floating offshore wind specifically in the Celtic sea. For the first time, offshore wind developers participating in the Crown Estate’s leasing round 5 will receive clarity over their grid connection from the electricity system operator at the same time as a secure seabed lease.