Members of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee today (September 22) backed a ‘supergrid’ as the only way to safeguard energy supplies as the UK begins phasing out fossil fuels.

In its new report the committee argues that a ‘supergrid’ will bring a ‘host of economic benefits.’

The MPs estimate it would create ‘tens of thousands’ of new jobs in the offshore renewable industry and could allow the UK to become a net energy exporter.

It would also save 25% of the capital cost saving for connecting each new offshore wind or marine energy project compared to connecting each site individually to the grid.

The committee also argues an offshore network could provide ‘vital support to Britain’s aging onshore grid’.

With around 80 to 280 wind farms likely to be built in the North Sea in the next twenty years, the cost and size of these new assets without a ‘supergrid’ could be ‘prohibitive’ says the report.

Committee chair, Tim Yeo, said: “The UK’s electricity system is the least interconnected of all European countries, but we also have vast offshore resources of renewable energy.

“In fact, we potentially have enough wind, wave and tidal energy to more than match our North Sea oil and gas production and transform the country from a net energy importer to a net energy exporter.

“If we continue developing these renewable resources site-by-site it could be prohibitively expensive with large individual connections for each power plant.

“Developing an integrated and interconnected offshore network would allow us to tap these huge resources cost-efficiently and prepare the ground for a future European supergrid, if it is necessary and feasible in future.”

Luke Walsh

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