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Is the UK Grid Ready for Renewables?

  • Publish Date: Posted 8 months ago
  • Author: Steve Walia

​The drive towards clean and sustainable energy is gathering real momentum and the UK has achieved a steady stream of records in the past few years as it moves away from damaging fossil fuels towards green energy alternatives. But there are fears that the national grid has not kept pace and will not be ready to handle the influx of clean energy that continues to come online with the exponential growth of renewable developments.

 

Heat pumps and EV cars, in particular, are creating challenges for the grid. Most homes tend to currently use gas, oil and electricity. But if oil and gas are replaced primarily by heat pumps, then most homes will only need electricity. Combined with the switch to electric vehicles, this will require a hugely increased demand for cabling, and the UK national grid simply isn't ready for this.

 

In fact, the CEO has warned the BBC that the National Grid would need to grow its infrastructure seven-fold in the next 7-8 years, comparable to its entire investment of new cabling in the past 32 years. This will mean hundreds of miles worth of new cabling, which will have environmental impacts of its own. But without this investment, higher energy currents will reduce the transmission of energy efficiency as thermal loss grows.

 

This will also result in power stations needing to burn more fuel to compensate, further emitting carbon. Is there an easy answer? No - but the two most viable solutions seem to be localised energy generation as far as possible and the increased use of hydrogen boilers and fuel cells within homes to mitigate the demand on the national electricity grid. This topic is yet another that needs rapidly exploring, and funding, in the UK's move to a carbon-neutral future.