National Grid spent a record £3.5bn in the first half of the financial year as it accelerated work to prepare the UK’s power grids for a surge in new clean energy projects.
The FTSE 100 monopoly, charged with running most of the UK’s power grids and some networks in the US, said it had entered “a new phase of capital delivery” as a result of the momentum of green policies on both sides of the Atlantic.
It has stepped up investment in 17 major onshore and offshore transmission projects in the UK that were fast-tracked by the energy regulator, Ofgem, earlier this year. In the US, the company said it was working on “a number of major transmission projects to unlock renewable generation”.
National Grid outlined its record investments alongside its financial results for the six months to the end of September, which revealed a profit of £1.4bn, down from £1.7bn in the same months last year.
John Pettigrew, the company’s chief executive, said: “We’re ready to meet the opportunities, and are set up to tackle the challenges ahead, to deliver a clean, fair and affordable energy future for all.”
National Grid has come under criticism from clean energy developers in the UK, which face a 10- to 15-year wait for a grid connection. The UK plans to run its grid entirely on clean electricity by 2035 but many renewable energy projects have been told they will need to wait until the late 2030s to provide clean power to the grid.
The green energy gridlock has raised concerns that the backlog could hold back billions of pounds of green investment and derail the UK’s progress towards its climate targets. The company has promised that a string of new reforms could slash the wait by up to 10 years.
As part of National Grid’s attempt to ease the backlog it told energy developers earlier this year to get on with their projects or get out of the queue for a grid connection. The company has also retained a legal firm to help move aside delayed developments to make way for viable projects and is working with the regulator to tweak existing rules that developers can build their own grid connections.
Aarin Chiekrie, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said that National Grid’s latest results showed that it was doing everything it could to “plant itself at the centre of the electric revolution”.