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National Grid reveals £54bn wind power network upgrade plan

August 3, 2022

By Paul Homewood

This is another cost that is never factored into the price of wind power:




A huge upgrade of the UK’s electricity network would see a host of pylons and cables transporting power from offshore wind farms around the UK.

Power lines from Anglesey to Swansea, Grimsby to Hertfordshire, and Loch Buidhe to Spittal would be built to pull electricity from the sea to the mainland then to homes and businesses.

National Grid ESO said it was the biggest network upgrade in 60 years.

But critics have called the £54bn project "short-sighted and shameful".

There are now more than 11,000 wind turbines on and offshore, which produce nearly a quarter of the UK’s electricity.

National Grid ESO, which runs the electricity network, said the plan it has laid out would enable the government to deliver 50GW of offshore wind power by 2030 – a third of the UK’s electricity demand – while creating 168,000 jobs.

It claimed the network could lead to more than £50bn of investments over the next eight years.

Rosie Pearson, a spokesperson for the group Essex Suffolk Norfolk Pylons, said the plans failed "abysmally" to address the concerns of "over 21,000 who have signed a petition calling to have this network offshore".

"It’s short-sighted and shameful," she said. "East Anglia is being thrown under a bus while significant additional offshore networking over much longer distances has been recommended for Scotland and North England."

These network upgrades are deemed essential to accommodate and integrate a new raft of renewable energy projects also announced on Thursday.


£50 billion to disfigure the countryside? And guess who will pay for that?

  1. Tim Leeney permalink
    August 3, 2022 3:36 pm

    “produce nearly a quarter of the UK’s electricity” Is that remotely true, taken over one year for example? BP’s pie charts suggest otherwise.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      August 3, 2022 3:50 pm

      ““produce nearly a quarter of the UK’s electricity”

      Until the Sun goes down and the wind stops blowing…
      Just as a matter of interest, has anyone in the Unreliables industry bothered to calculate where the kinetic energy of the wind comes from and how long it takes to replenish it when a substantial portion of it has been abstracted by the bird mincers?
      I very much doubt it will happen instantaneously!

      • jimlemaistre permalink
        August 3, 2022 3:55 pm


      • Phoenix44 permalink
        August 3, 2022 8:10 pm

        Yes, I’m unsure whether it means winds will be lower or winds will be higher. I’m leaning towards higher as the wind exists to fulfill a physical function and that function must be fulfilled. so if you take some of the energy away en route, it has to produce more. I think?

      • catweazle666 permalink
        August 3, 2022 8:28 pm

        Basically, the wind is a product of the temperature gradient between the Equator and the poles, that is the source of the kinetic energy that causes the wind turbines to rotate.
        Newton’s laws of motion state that if kinetic energy is removed from the system the velocity of the air currents will be reduced, the more turbines the greater the reduction in velocity.
        It does not seem to me that this has been taken into account.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        August 4, 2022 7:56 am

        I thought wind moved between low and high pressure areas? Those are caused by temperature differences but if the wind on the way from low to high is “stopped” or “reduced” air still has to fill the “gap” created by the high pressure. So more wind has to blow. Or it has to blow harder. In any event, if wind is a physical process caused by an imbalance between A and B, that imbalance has to be balanced. Theres no such thing as a free lunch in physics.

        Between wind, solar and heat pumps we are doing all sorts of things to the atmosphere thst nobody seems to care about.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        August 4, 2022 4:51 pm

        “I thought wind moved between low and high pressure areas? “
        Indeed, the pressure differential is caused by the warmer air rising due to the Sun warming the land and permitting the cooler air to be forced in to replace it.
        The wind is not “stopped”, its velocity is reduced by the removal of kinetic energy by being made to do work on the blades of the wind turbine.
        This energy is removed from the weather system and will be replaced at a rate determined by inter alia by the solar warming of the ground, thus causing the necessary convection currents that drive the entire weather system.
        Thus the sum of the velocities of the wind in that particular region are dependent on the uptake of solar energy by the system and the abstraction of energy is going to have an effect on the wind velocity, hence its capacity to do work.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      August 3, 2022 6:35 pm

      Variability is a major issue.
      In the last 24 hours wind output has varied between 13GW just before midnight and 4.3GW now. Since March wind output has been up and down like the proverbial. By Saturday it looks like it’ll be back down to as near zero as it is possible to get and remaining low for the rest of the week.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      August 3, 2022 8:25 pm

      Yes, it’s correct.
      Looking at the average for metred wind, solar & hydro generation, over the past 12 months, is 27.9%.

    • Jordan permalink
      August 3, 2022 9:52 pm

      Tim – it’s entirely feasible to supply a fraction of the total over a period of time. The difference is continuity of supply as intermittent renewables cannot offer any measure of security. Security is partly a function of satisfying consumer demand for energy, but a large part of security and quality of supply is providing network services. These include operating and standing reserve (the ability to call on generation at fairly short notice), voltage control (quality of supply), inertia (frequency) and something called “short circuit level” (SCL). SCL is the ability of something in an area of the network which will supply millions of amperes to ride through things like a lightning strike, without the network shutting off.
      Intermittent renewables are not good for providing these services and quality of supply. Their electronic converters are incapable providing SCL as the silicon devices will get frazzled. Alternating current systems rely on very large spinning alternators distributed around the network to assure quality of supply at all points on the network. Among the challenges now faced by NG is that the number of large alternators are reducing, and locations are not well distributed as we close our power stations.
      So the percentage of intermittent renewables will be limited, but it could be quite high over any given time period, if the conditions are favourable. But there is no significant percentage of total supply at which renewables can secure supply and underpin quality. The electricity network needs other generators to “do all the heavy lifting”.

  2. August 3, 2022 3:43 pm

    I’m puzzled by the claim of 168000 extra jobs

    • magesox permalink
      August 3, 2022 3:47 pm

      What is there to puzzle over? It’s just a lie.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      August 3, 2022 4:11 pm

      168000 jobs to generate electricity, that could have been generated using fossil fuels with far fewer jobs. Hopeless drop in productivity. Governments don’t create jobs, private companies and individuals do.

      Or just employ 10,000 people to run around breaking windows and 158,000 to fix them. That also creates 168,000 jobs.

      • jimlemaistre permalink
        August 3, 2022 4:19 pm

        Every prognostication coming from ‘The Big Green Machine’ is Raw, Absolute Horse Droppings . . . They wouldn’t know a ‘Job’ unless it was a Government hand out . . .

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      August 3, 2022 6:09 pm

      That’s 84000 digging the holes and another 84000 to fill ’em in.
      BTW…anyone rejoicing at the site of the wind turbine burning ferociously in the papers this morning?

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      August 3, 2022 8:12 pm

      I’m puzzled why they think that’s a good thing. We are no longer in the 1970s or 80s, where jobs were a concern. Jobs are a cost. Having more jobs in the electricity system means are bills will be higher. That’s not a good thing. I want fewer jobs though new technology or innovation, because then my bill is lower.

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      August 3, 2022 8:25 pm

      And where these jobs will be.

      • roger permalink
        August 3, 2022 10:47 pm

        the Chinese Republic provide a mandarin teaching facility at most Universities I believe presumably for just such an opportunity

  3. jimlemaistre permalink
    August 3, 2022 3:49 pm

    All the Environmentalist Dogma and the resultant Zealotry fails to recognize Any of the ‘Input Factors’ of building their ‘Monstrosities’ or any of the Fossil Fuels burned in China during production . . . Or the Radiation making Neo dymium boron in Mongolia . . . The ONLY place in the World where it is Legal . . . Even the BBC did a Doc on that !?

    Wind Turbines, these are The Ultimate in Embedded Costs and Environmental Destruction. Each one weighs about 1,688 tons (equivalent to 23 houses) and they contain 1,300 tons of concrete and 295 tons of steel for the masts (Concrete and Steel = 15% Global CO2). 3.5 tons of copper, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass Then there are the rare earth minerals . . . 800 lbs. of neodymium-boron per turbine, praseodymium, and dysprosium. The leaching into the environment from tailings ponds, the radiation released into the environment and the mining of these minerals are all Embedded Costs. Where are all the calculations for all of these in The Environmental reports? Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last about 15 to 20 years, then, it must be replaced. Oh, we cannot recycle used blades yet either! That is why we see them lying on the ground at wind farms after they have been replaced. What about the coal burned and electricity used at all the production facilities processing these essential components and the CO2 generated during their production? Somehow is this ‘Green Magic’ without pollution, because it will be used to produce Green Energy? Not likely! It all gets brushed under the ‘Big Green Rug’ and seems irrelevant because ‘It’s for a Good Cause’ . . . Absolutely NOT !!

    There ain’ no such thing as a FREE lunch !!!

    • August 3, 2022 5:40 pm


      Paul does excellent work in exposing these green nonsenses. Your calculations are very useful. At least off shore wind farms, useless as they are, are in effect hidden. Not so solar farms which in our climate are so idiotic they just make me sigh.

      This proposed solar farm is in the north of our country on prime farm land.

      Do you have any similar calculations to wind turbines of the amount of materials used in solar panels, which needs to include of course the huge amounts of coal burnt in china to create them.

      I also don’t know if you, Paul or any readers know how long the facility (wind or Solar) needs to operate for before it pays back the CO2 expended in its manufacture, transport, installation, maintenance and removal? To that ought to be added the distribution of power often from remote areas requiring new cabling and pylons etc.

      • jimlemaistre permalink
        August 3, 2022 5:52 pm

        Here you go . . .

        Solar Panels. . . the main problem with them is the Heat and the Chemicals required during processing

        Producing pure Silicon requires the processing of raw silicate. The ‘Czochralski Method’ is what turns all that silicate into silicon used to make Solar Panels. Including the 1,425o C Heat required to melt the quartz crystals, usually by burning Coking Coal or Natural Gas. The Glass covers are made by heating Sand, Soda Ash and Limestone to the incredibly high temperature of 1,700o C with Natural Gas. Then, the cut glass is Re-Heated to 450o C for ‘Tempering’. Where are the calculations for the CO2 going up the chimneys where that quartz or that glass is melted? Then, to make silica, we use Hydrochloric Acid, Sulfuric Acid, Nitric Acid, Hydrogen Fluoride, Trichloroethane, and Acetone. Do we recycle this waste? What happens to all the ‘left-overs’ from using these highly toxic chemicals? Solar Panels need gallium-arsenide, copper-indium, gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride. All of which are highly toxic even radioactive. What happens to this waste?

        Furthermore, the Silicon dust is a hazard to workers where silicone is made and where it used. Oh, and last, the Silicone infused Solar Panels cannot, as yet, be recycled. What happens to all the by-products from making and processing all these chemicals? Finally, it has been suggested that the energy input to build solar panels exceeds the energy output from Solar Panels in their entire productive lifetime . . . Is that ‘Green Energy’ ? NO !

        From P 5 . . . Clean Green Energy . . . Fairy Tales on Steroids . . .

  4. st3ve permalink
    August 3, 2022 4:09 pm

    So 11 thousand turbines need to have the network upgraded at a cost of £54000 million. That’s around £5 million apiece.

    That’s going to put a bit of a kink in the projected ‘price per Megawatt’ curve?

    • Nicholas Lewis permalink
      August 13, 2022 1:52 pm

      It doesn’t as the wind farm doesn’t pay for it we do!

  5. August 3, 2022 4:10 pm

    As I recall, National Grid’s profits are directly proportional to its investment in infrastructure. That is why it encourages all these remote wind farms as they create the necessity for infrastructure and thus bigger profits.

    • jimlemaistre permalink
      August 3, 2022 4:15 pm

      Plus ‘Carbon Trading’. . .

      What Is Carbon Emissions Trading?

      Emissions trading, sometimes referred to as ‘Cap and Trade’ or ‘Allowance Trading’, is an approach to reducing pollution. This system was designed to protect ‘Human Health’ and ‘The Environment’. Emissions trading programs have two key components. ‘1’ . . . to limit or put a cap on pollution, and, ‘2’ . . . To provide ‘Tradable Allowances’ equal to the limit that authorized ‘Allowance Holders’ can use so they can emit a specific quantity of a pollutant (one ton of CO2). This limit governs how environmental targets, set by governments, can be met. ‘Tradable Allowances’ provide some flexibility for ‘Emissions Generating Companies’ to set their own ‘Compliance Path’ within government guidelines. These ‘Allowances’ can be bought or sold on ’Carbon Allowance Markets’. These programs are referred to as ‘Market-Based Carbon Emissions Trading Exchanges’. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and the Paris Agreement of 2015 were International Accords laying out the international CO2 emissions goals.

      The Paris agreement was ratified by all except six countries. These ‘agreements’ have given rise to all the international Emissions targets and all the regulations supporting them.
      With these new regulations in place, the pressure for businesses to find ways to reduce their ‘Carbon Footprint’ has grown. Most of today’s solutions involve the buying and selling of credits on ‘Carbon Markets’. What the carbon markets do is turn CO2 emissions into a commodity by creating a price for CO2 emissions. Emissions fall into one of two categories. Carbon Credits or Carbon Offsets, and they can both be bought or sold on a ‘Carbon Market Trading Exchange’. These ‘Exchanges’ are seen as a simple idea that provide market-based solutions to a complex problems.

      What are Carbon Credits and Carbon Offsets?

      The terms are frequently used interchangeably, but carbon credits and carbon offsets operate on different mechanisms. Carbon Credits, also known as Carbon Allowances, work like ‘Permission Slips’ for Excess Polluters. When a company buys a carbon credit, usually first from the Government then from ‘Carbon Markets’, they gain permission to generate One Ton of CO2 Emissions. With carbon credits, carbon revenue flows vertically from companies to Regulators. Companies who end up with ‘Excess Credits’ like Electric Car companies and Wind Farms or Solar Farms they can sell them to excess polluters for a profit $$$. In today’s market that is about $5.00 per ton.

      How are Carbon Credits and Offsets created?

      Organizations with operations that reduce the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere, say by planting more trees or investing in renewable energy like Wind Farms, Solar Farms, Bio Fuel or Electric Cars have the ability to issue ‘Carbon Offsets’ ‘in an ‘Open Market’. . . for profit $$$.

      The Offset advantage . . . New revenue streams $$$ . . . Under ‘Net Zero’ . .
      There is one more big advantage of ‘Carbon Offsets’. If you’re the company selling them, they can provide a significant revenue stream! The best example of this, beyond those ‘Clean Energy Producers’ mentioned above, is Tesla. Yes, that Tesla we all know and love, the Electric Car maker. Tesla who sold Carbon Credits on the ‘Market-Based Carbon Emissions Trading Exchanges’ to the tune of over 2 Billion dollars of Credits in 2021. About $2,000 per car, because Environmentalists, under the Kyoto Accord, have declared Electric Cars Officially, ‘Emissions Free’ . . . Those Carbon Credits sold for Each Car . . . Permit ‘Excess Polluters’ to buy those credits and ADD about 400 Tons more CO2 to the Atmosphere to meet their ‘Net Zero’ targets without spending a dime on cleanup. That’s the ‘Net Zero’ and the ‘Clean Energy’ Program hard at work . . . Just shuffling Pollution around . . . But Hey . . . It looks Soo good . . . On Paper . . . Advocates call this Success . . . I DO NOT!

      From . . .

      • catweazle666 permalink
        August 5, 2022 4:05 pm

        It is interesting to research the connection between carbon credits with Al Gore and Ken Lay.

  6. John Hultquist permalink
    August 3, 2022 4:12 pm

    £50bn of investments . . .

    . . . is a cost, not an investment.

    • August 3, 2022 5:42 pm


      Cost indeed. You obviously haven’t understood the game. Not only is it an ‘investment’ but it is an “ESSENTIAL investment to safeguard the FUTURE of our country and its citizens.”

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        August 4, 2022 7:42 am

        Lying morons.

  7. GeoffB permalink
    August 3, 2022 5:07 pm

    What is the payback time for all this expense, normal industry standards are payback in one year…do it
    Payback in two years…. defer until the one year returns have all been done.
    Payback in three years…forget it, not worth doing.

    Offshore wind power with its high cost, intermittency, difficult maintenance, together with distance from user is just not a viable source of electricity for an economy totally reliant on electrical power.

    • Jordan permalink
      August 3, 2022 10:11 pm

      These are regulated businesses. Standard practice for regulated income is 40 year life for network assets. £54bn annuitized over 40 years are a 7% rate of return would be £4bn per year to add to NG’s existing Use Of System charges. There would be operating costs to add to this.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        August 4, 2022 7:59 am

        It’s a Regulated Asset Base model. The RAB only ever grows in size.

    • Dave Andrews permalink
      August 4, 2022 5:36 pm

      Plus Wind Europe have recently said that there is going to be a shortfall of suitable vessels to build all the planned offshore wind farms within the next few years especially as the turbines themselves are getting bigger.

      “World wide shortage of FIVs, WTIVs and CLVs poses risk for project execution”

      (FIVs are Foundation Installation Vessels,WTIVs are Wind Turbine Installation Vessels, CLVs are Cable Laying Vessels that connect the turbines to the mainland)

      Wind Europe 14.6.22 ‘Europe’s offshore wind expansion will depend on vessel availability’ wind-expansion-will-depend-on-vessel-availability/

  8. Micky R permalink
    August 3, 2022 5:46 pm

    BBC says that National Grid ESO says that these proposed works ” … would enable the government to deliver 50GW of offshore wind power by 2030 – a third of the UK’s electricity demand ”

    Demand will reach a peak of 150GW at some point in 2030 ?

    • Gamecock permalink
      August 3, 2022 10:42 pm

      May I suggest that you don’t want ‘government to deliver 50GW of offshore wind power.’

      Government run means political decisions, not business decisions. Tens of thousands will die.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        August 4, 2022 7:44 am

        That’s a feature, not a glitch. Pensioners die of cold, not heat.

  9. Mad Mike permalink
    August 3, 2022 5:52 pm

    I suspect that the £54bn is just for the myriad of pylons and cables transporting the big stuff. I doubt very much that it includes the upgrade that every street will need.

  10. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 3, 2022 5:53 pm

    Well if you knock 20% off for industrial bill payers and assume no interest, that’s only about another £80 per year on every single domestic bill for 20 years. Hey ho it’s only money.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      August 3, 2022 6:09 pm

      And for the same cost you could build and run 25GW of CCGT for 30 years, I think. Might need to double check, I used £600 capital, £50 running per kw.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      August 3, 2022 8:14 pm

      You think the industrial users don’t pass on the cost to consumers?

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        August 3, 2022 9:10 pm

        I didn’t say that did I, we’re all very much aware of inflation and the major factors driving it. I was just roughing out the direct cost of this single project on domestic bills.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        August 4, 2022 8:01 am

        That’s not inflation, its an increase in costs. We are making electricity more expensive to produce. Consumers ultimately pay all the increase.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        August 4, 2022 12:08 pm

        But there is a cunning plan to get rid of the industrial users by either sending it all abroad or bankrupting them with huge energy costs. Small businesses are likely to see rises of 500% which will drive a lot of them to the wall. So there won’t be any to pass the costs on.

      • jimlemaistre permalink
        August 4, 2022 3:18 pm

        Time to ask . . . Why has China become the largest consumer of Fossil Fuels in the World . . . Because THEY are NOW making EVERYTHING we used to . . . TOTAL Global Fossil fuel consumption has NOT changed . . . Environmentalist Dogma and Zealotry in the west is nothing more than a shell game . . . We look so Good on Paper . . . yet Global Pollution HAS NOT CHANGED . . . Try getting that message published . . . Surly you jest !

  11. Mad Mike permalink
    August 3, 2022 6:01 pm

    Are they expecting planning applications and planning reviews to be favourable enough that the work will be able to start without opposition and therefore no delays?

    Judging by the time it took to hear opposition to the upgrade and reposition of about 10 pylons near me, I think they may be disappointed. I can’t see that the organisations charged with the protection of rural England will be too happy.

  12. Ben Vorlich permalink
    August 3, 2022 6:52 pm

    All this being done for EVs and Heat Pumps as part of Net Zero. There’s a lot been written about EVs and batteries but what about Heat Pumps
    Single-split heat pumps typically use a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant such as R410A and contain a charge of between 1-5kg, while larger multi-split systems may have a charge up to 50kg (typically for systems over 250kW). The most common fluids used in heat pumps are HFCs which have a global warming potential (GWP) over 1,000 times that of CO2 (R410A has a GWP which is 2,088 times that of CO2).

    Judging by the performance of Air Con in motor vehicles I would guess the majority of Heat Pumps will need recharging every 10-12 years,

    At 30 million homes each with a heat pump containing 2kg of HFCs that will be 60,000 tonnes of HFCs in the UK without considering industry. If 10% is lost every year, at say 1500x CO2 that’s a lot of CO2.

  13. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 3, 2022 7:43 pm

    120 wind turbines in the UK burn a year.
    There goes another, zero emissions, not with gallons of oil in the gearbox!

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      August 3, 2022 7:46 pm

      Sorry, 120 globally.

  14. Phoenix44 permalink
    August 3, 2022 8:08 pm

    Please, please, please will these people understand that JOBS ARE A COST.

    I don’t want our energy system to have a single additional job – it will only make my bill higher. 168,000 jobs at at an all-in average cost of £55,000 is over £9 billion a year. That’s £300/household. Why are they boasting about that?

  15. Cheshire Red permalink
    August 3, 2022 10:27 pm

    For crying out loud why everyone is complaining about this? Don’t you all know wind is free?

  16. Jordan permalink
    August 3, 2022 10:28 pm

    “while creating 168,000 jobs”
    These will include jobs in the network operator, but also the supply chain (manufacturers), development consultants, advisors, support and maintenance services, skills training, apprenticeship university research projects (sponsorship budget), possibly the jobs in the power generators enabled by the network.
    The number will be anything the author could drag into the argument to get as big a claim as possible. It might even include jobs in the services sector, such as hotels and the like for people who are away from home when working on the project.
    A point raised a number of times in the above discussion is a good one: we should be focused on UK productivity, and not cooking up a number of jobs to put a positive spin on a proposal.
    The number of jobs also says nothing about their duration. Some of the consultancy and development jobs could be quite short-lived. And hotels stays (if included in the above) will peak during construction, and then fall quite dramatically.

  17. cookers52 permalink
    August 4, 2022 7:36 am

    The electricity supply Network is in need of investment the main supergrid lines and infrastructure are ageing. Original design was a pyramid with now demolished huge power stations at the top. I am actually quite surprised there haven’t been more blackouts and disruption, but anecdotal evidence from the engineers operating things is not good.
    Gas supply infrastructure is being left to become dilapidated because Gov have made a decision we won’t need it in the future!

  18. Peter permalink
    August 5, 2022 1:02 am

    It is not only wind energy that will require grid upgrades.

    Read this:

    In the Netherlands “[t]he electricity grid has reached its maximum capacity for supplying power to large consumers” in several places. In these places, “it can make no new connections for businesses, schools, and hospitals.”

    Quoted from the article above: “As an example of where problems arise, she said that people are now buying solar panels en masse. “But the cable in your neighborhood is too thin. It can’t handle all that. As a result, you can’t return the electricity, and you can’t earn back. It can also happen that lamps flicker or that you can’t charge your car, for example.””

    A net operator sums it up like this “the Netherlands once had a very nice system with which there were almost never any problems. But now, with the volatility of solar and wind supply, it is becoming a very different story. The whole system has to be overhauled.”

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