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Wind industry says investment plans held up by limited access to grid

Wind industry leaders gathering in London yesterday called for access to the national grid to be improved to allow £50bn of private infrastructure investment to be spent over the next 10 years.

Energy minister Mike O’Brien told British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) conference delegates that current regulatory regime, headed by Ofgem, is limiting the national grid and wind energy companies investing in upgrading the network.

O’Brien said: “We need investment in our grid infrastructure to reinforce and expand the existing grid network – both onshore and offshore.”

He added that energy infrastructure investment could help lift the economy out of its current downturn. “We need to do what we can to bring forward energy projects to stimulate the economy,” he said.

Also at the conference, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Conservative shadow energy minister Charles Hendry both called on the Government to speed up grid connection for renewables.

Clegg said: “The existing grid is inefficient and old fashioned and at current capacity it won’t meet future demand.”

Meanwhile Hendry said; “We accept the need for change to the current system whereby National Grid must connect applications in the order in which they have been made. There should be some recognition in the system of whether planning consent has been given and the speed at which it can move ahead.”

Following the speeches, BWEA Chairman Adam Bruce added: “The wind energy industry looks to the Government to provide clear guidance to Ofgem to facilitate long-term investment in time to reach our 2020 target.”

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