The grid connects machines that generate electricity to the homes and businesses that use it. It is made up of high-voltage transmission lines that transport power efficiently over long distances, and lower voltage lines that distribute power more locally. High-voltage lines generally run overhead on pylons, with some underground, or on the sea-bed if offshore. Lower-voltage lines are carried by smaller pylons and wooden poles, or often run underground in urban areas.
Whenever a new generator or consumer of electricity wishes to connect to the electricity system, it either needs to connect to existing grid, or new grid needs to be built. In Great Britain, National Grid operates the energy system and ensures the system is balanced; it does this by making sure the amount of electricity generated equals the amount of demand. As part of its role as energy regulator Ofgem oversees the overall grid and electricity system.
Ideal sites to generate renewable energy; including exposed windy areas, hilltops, by the coast, or out at sea, are often far away from existing grid infrastructure, which conventionally connects industry and cities.For this reason, there is a need for additional grid to reach out to emerging sites of renewable energy generation.
Generating energy from renewable sources creates more variability in the supply of electricity. National Grid needs to adapt to this in the same way it responds to varied demand.
RenewableUK is actively working with Ofgem, National Grid and others to find sustainable solutions in all of these areas.