Select Committee on Science and Technology Third Special Report


Supplementary Memorandum from National Grid

We are concerned that the text of the report causes unwarranted confusion between National Grid's high voltage electricity network for England and Wales and the other electricity networks to which wave and tidal projects are far more likely to connect.

As we had hoped to make clear in the written evidence which we submitted at the Committee's request, National Grid owns and operates the 275 and 400 kiloVolt transmission network for England and Wales. As such our role in respect of the development and connection of wave and non-barrier tidal energy is extremely limited, largely because the generally small scale nature of these projects means that it will be much more economic for them to connect at lower voltages.

We are concerned that the report and its conclusions perpetuate a misunderstanding as to our own role and that of other networks, not least because the specific terms 'Grid' and 'Grid Connection' are used when we believe that the more general term 'network connection' is really meant. We believe it is important to set the record straight.

In particular, as explained in our evidence, National Grid does not favour the connection of any particular form of generation. Indeed, to do so would be a breach of our licence which requires our charges to be cost-reflective and non-discriminatory. It is more economic for large generators (over 300MW) to connect directly to the transmission system and for smaller generators to connect to distribution systems. Furthermore, it is more efficient for generators to connect close to demand centres in the south because this involves less investment in the transmission system, than to connect in the north.

The issue is not therefore that 'the Grid is clearly a structural barrier to the integration of wave and tidal energy into the UK's energy system' (para 31). Rather, owing to the remoteness of wave and tidal energy sources from demand centres, significant costs will be incurred in network reinforcement, primarily for the appropriate distribution networks. A central issue will therefore be how the costs of such network reinforcement will be met.

National Grid's evidence explained that we actively facilitate connection of all kinds of generating plant to our network on a non-discriminatory and transparent basis ; that we do not foresee any specific high-voltage grid-related issues likely to impose a barrier to meeting the Government's 2010 targets for renewable generation ; and, beyond this, we also believe that the actions we are taking now will ensure that there are no barriers for much larger renewable developments in the longer term.

18 May 2001

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