Institution of Civil Engineers says 'significant investment' is needed in to transmission network if raft of new power stations are to have a purpose

A new raft of nuclear power stations and renewable energy sources will be useless without drastic improvements to the national grid, the Institution of Civil Engineers has warned.

In the first of a series of papers on the state of the UK energy sector, the body slammed government policy for leaving the country “vulnerable” to fluctuating international markets and a potential energy shortfall.

It said “significant investment” in the national transmission system was needed in order to meet 2020 renewable targets and plug the energy gap.

'Smart' transmission networks should be developed along the east and west coasts to allow energy sources to connect to the grid without needing to build an individual connection for each plant.

It said: “A new generation of nuclear power stations, the next generation of combined cycle gas turbines along with a mixed supply of renewable energy sources will offer the UK the chance to create a low carbon energy sector.

“The ICE is concerned that unless large-scale improvements to the national transmission grid are made, the UK will not be ready to effectively utilise this power.”

The organisation also criticised the authorities for failing to keep policy in line with changing energy demands and called for an urgent review of the role of energy regulator OFGEM.

Gas storage must also be increased to protect the country from short term spikes, it said. It said the UK only had 14 days worth of gas storage, compared to 99 days in Germany and 122 days in France.

ICE director general Tom Foulkes said: “Urgent action is needed by both government and the energy industry to revise existing policy and prevent potentially devastating future shortfalls.”

“Unless industry, government and individual householders take action to change things, we all face devastating economic and environmental outcomes, including blackouts and more severe climate change.”