A blog by Roddy Wilson, Network Planning Manager for SSEN Transmission

This week we published our 2020 analysis of energy trends in the north of Scotland; informing the requirements of our future network as we prepare for possible net zero scenarios.

As we dig deeper into this data, we begin to build a picture of what this means for our system planning team and the likely requirements of our future network as we facilitate the journey to net zero. Here’s some initial thoughts from me on the findings:

 

 

  • Firstly, it confirms that Scotland is the king-maker of a net zero future for GB. The north of Scotland holds the greatest renewable resources in GB and therefore provides the greatest opportunity for growth to meet net zero targets. In 2019/20, electricity generated on our system represented 2.85 times the level of demand in our network area, highlighting the crucial role that Scotland’s electricity industry plays in delivering clean, green power to the rest of GB.

 

  • Secondly, greater electrification in society will play a key role in meeting net zero targets, with Scotland’s transmission network playing a pivotal role. As electrification requirements increase to decarbonise heat and transport GB-wide, we expect electricity use, both business and domestic, to follow suit. To meet this increase in demand, a huge proportion of this transition will be powered by Scotland’s world leading renewables sector. We therefore need to prepare our network for an ever-increasing focus on bulk power transfer to major demand centres across GB to meet net zero targets.

 

  • Thirdly, it means we need to invest to support the delivery of further renewable generation to meet the above two objectives. We’ve seen a substantial increase in the connection of large-scale renewable electricity to our network - over 1000MW of onshore and offshore wind has connected in the north of Scotland since 2017. With such a significant increase in large scale connected generation over the space of two years, and ahead of the implementation of further generation policy deployment measures (such as the launch of Crown Estate Scotland’s latest offshore wind leasing round and proposed changes to the CfD pot structure in 2021, including wider technology eligibility) this demonstrates the need for continued and holistic investment in our transmission network, supporting net zero ambitions and contributing to a green economic recovery post COVID-19.

 

  • And last but not least, the trends suggest that our investment priorities as outlined in our RIIO-T2 business plan, A Network for Net Zero, are necessary to meet future demand. Government and regulatory policy continue to be the lead driver in the key changes in GB energy generation & demand, and supportive signals will be vital to meet future decarbonisation targets, and economic goals.

 

As energy trends evolve, and as low carbon technology advances, one thing remains a constant – investment in the GB electricity network will continue to be the backbone for the green revolution. If the parameters for the next price control enables us, we stand ready to unlock this net zero potential for GB with shovel ready projects, supply chain opportunities and skilled job creation -all of which will make a meaningful contribution to support green economic recovery efforts.

We hope you read our latest energy trends report with interest; the full report can be accessed here, and we welcome any views on our findings.

If you have any questions or would like to be involved in our North of Scotland Future Energy Scenarios workstream, please contact imran.p.mohammed@sse.com.  

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