Government welcomes report on electricity networks as critical to Britain’s energy security

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps welcomes report from Nick Winser, the UK's Electricity Networks Commissioner, and will consider the recommendations before presenting an action plan

  • Electricity Networks Commissioner Nick Winser review will help UK take full advantage of its renewable energy success
  • independent report outlines ‘vital and achievable’ plans to transform Britain’s electricity transmission system and get more wind and nuclear energy into people’s homes and businesses
  • report comes as government proposes new powers to protect energy system from national security and cyber security risks

Today’s report by Electricity Networks Commissioner Nick Winser sets out plans to bolster the country’s energy security and ensure the UK is taking full advantage of its position as a world leader in renewables.

Since 2010, the UK has been hugely successful in increasing investment in renewable energy generation by 500%. To ensure the country is taking full advantage, remains equipped to harness the opportunities of renewable energy, and gets the additional supply of clean power to homes and businesses, the government asked Nick Winser to carry out his review.

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps welcomes the report and will consider the recommendations before presenting an action plan later this year to strengthen the UK’s energy security, drive down household bills and grow the economy.

Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating effect on global energy markets and accelerated the need for more home-grown energy sources, including renewables, nuclear and North Sea oil and gas.

Today’s report suggests that new power lines can be built in half the time and confirms that, while challenging, speeding up the delivery of strategic electricity transmission lines is “vital and achievable”. A set of recommendations has been put forward to reduce current timescales for delivering onshore transmission network infrastructure to 7 years to help deliver energy security and net zero more quickly. The government will respond to these proposals later this year.

Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Grant Shapps, said:

"The UK is leading the world on renewable energy and decarbonising faster than any other country in the G7. We must ensure we are taking full advantage of our success and getting the increased supply of homegrown, clean energy that we have at our fingertips to people’s homes and businesses for years to come.

"That is why we asked Nick Winser to carry out this review - I welcome his report and am grateful for his work.

"This is another important step as we continue to reform our energy system to drive down bills, grow the economy and ensure tyrants like Putin can never again use energy as a weapon of war."

Minister for Networks and Nuclear Andrew Bowie, said:

"With renewable energy already making up around 40% of our total electricity supply, the UK has a world-class renewables sector. We are determined to match this with a world-class system for delivering this growing supply to where it is needed.

"We will be considering Nick Winser’s recommendations closely as we work towards achieving an energy system led by renewables, nuclear and other clean, home-grown technologies."

Carl Trowell, President, UK Strategic Infrastructure at National Grid, said:

"This report from the Electricity Networks Commissioner is both timely and welcome, following our recent launch of The Great Grid Upgrade, the largest overhaul of the electricity transmission grid in generations, with significant new infrastructure planned across England and Wales.

"There is no time to waste, implementing the proposals and progressing the energy transition at pace is the surest route to more affordable bills, greater energy resilience and a more energy independent UK."

Rebecca Barnett, Ofgem’s Director of Networks said:

"We need bold reforms to accelerate the delivery of electricity transmission infrastructure needed to end the reliance on fossil fuels for power by 2035.

"Nick Winser sets out an ambitious, highly detailed programme to remove barriers to planning and delivering transmission network and plugging renewable generation into the grid.

"This builds on Ofgem’s work to establish strategic national and regional planning; unlock and accelerate infrastructure investment; and end delays in grid connections to homes, businesses and public services."

Today’s report comes as the government publishes new proposals to grant Secretary of State for Energy Security powers to direct the Future System Operator (FSO) – the new public body that will be tasked with planning a decarbonised energy system - to take action to address risks to national security.

The new powers could be deployed if a company, contracting with the FSO, is found to threaten the resilience, safety or security of the UK’s energy system, such as through cyber-attacks and supply chain vulnerabilities.

These actions could include removing or preventing certain suppliers’ involvement or equipment in our energy supply chain, such as by directing FSO to not contract with third party suppliers to ensure the security of the system.

The new powers would be used as a last resort option and are in addition to the 2021 National Security and Investment Act, which gives the government the power to address investment and ownership risks to national security.

They also come on top of a new role for the FSO to use its expertise to plan for certain events that could harm the country’s energy resilience – such as extreme weather or flooding. The FSO will act as an expert adviser to the government on making the UK’s energy system as resilient as possible against such shocks.

In the coming months, the energy regulator Ofgem will consult on new FSO licence conditions with the eventual aim of including this in the FSO’s new licence conditions under the Energy Bill powers.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Andrew Bowie MP