Scotland needs new pylons now, says Scottish Renewable

Trade body makes case for upgrading transmission infrastructure – pylons, power lines and substations – to cut bills, bolster energy security and tackle climate change. 

A report by Scottish Renewables calls for new investment in Scotland’s electricity network.

Electricity pylon in Scotland seen from the inside, looking up

Photo by nz_willowherb

The report, Why investing in electricity transmission infrastructure is a priority for Scotland, argues that a net-zero future which delivers cheap, reliable and clean power as well as jobs and a thriving economy for generations to come will look very different. 

‘Wind turbines will be larger and more efficient, meaning there may be fewer of them,’ says the introduction. ‘Homes and businesses will be connected to heat networks, linked by hot water pipes. Industrial sites will house large batteries as well as factories, and we’ll need more electric vehicle 

chargers, heat pumps and solar panels.’  

Of course, the electricity network we use now was designed almost a century ago for fossil fuels almost a century ago. It is now holding back the clean power projects that are needed to modernise the UK’s energy supply. 

The report says that the kind of infrastructure needed is already being built across England and Wales. It also cites an estimate by National Grid of just how much work is needed across the UK, such as 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 £50bn. 

But the demand of inexpensive, clean energy means this is all a good value for money. Investing in Scotland’s electricity network will: 

  • Cut energy bills – as more infrastructure means more power can be produced from renewables such as wind and solar, reducing demand on more expensive alternatives. 
  • Build energy security – ending our reliance on imported fossil fuels. 
  • Tackle climate change – research by Scottish Renewables shows that every new mile of overhead power line enables enough renewable energy generation to displace more than 10,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, equivalent to taking 7,600 cars off the road. 

Nick Sharpe, Director of Communications and Strategy at Scottish Renewables, says: ‘The UK’s electricity network is not fit for purpose. While the deployment of cheap renewable energy generation has increased fourfold over the past ten years, investment in Britain’s transmission grid have flatlined, and has even decreased since 2017. 

‘Electricity demand is set to increase by 50% in the next decade and double by mid-century so it’s therefore wrong to say that Scottish households don’t need more power lines, pylons and substations, we need them to keep our homes warm and ensure the lights stay on. 

‘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 11GW offshore and 12GW 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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