SCOTLAND urgently needs to build more electricity pylons, power lines and substations if it is to meet renewable energy targets, according to a leading trade body.

A new report from Scottish Renewables claims that the UK’s fossil fuel power stations are “old and dirty and must be replaced”.

While it describes Scotland as the “UK’s renewable energy powerhouse” it says the country is being held back by an aging electricity grid, which was designed for fossil fuels and needs modernising.

Nick Sharpe, director of communications and strategy at Scottish Renewables, said: “The UK’s electricity network is not fit for purpose.

“While the deployment of cheap renewable energy generation has increased fourfold over the past 10 years, investment in Britain’s transmission grid has flatlined, and has even decreased since 2017.

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“Electricity demand is set to increase by 50% in the next decade and double by mid-century so it’s therefore wrong to say that Scottish households don’t need more power lines, pylons and substations, we need them to keep our homes warm and ensure the lights stay on.

“Groups and individuals who object to the construction of power lines, pylons and substations largely do so because they do not like the way they look.

“By the end of this year, there will be just over 70 months left to achieve our targets of 11GW offshore and 12GW onshore wind. To ensure we maximise the enormous socioeconomic benefits this will bring to local communities, we will need a grid fit for the 21st century.”

It comes as electricity firms looking to build new lines or pylons face protests, with groups such as the Strathpeffer and Contin Better Cable Route challenging power giant SSEN over the route chosen for a network of pylons that will run for about 100 miles from Spittal in Caithness to Beauly, near Inverness.

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However, Scottish Renewables said it is “time to be upfront and honest” about the need for updated infrastructure.

The trade body claims that investing in pylons and substations will help cut energy bills as the infrastructure will ensure the availability of cheap renewable energy to all households.

The report also notes that if domestically produced renewable energy is to end reliance upon expensive fossil fuel imports, the network has to be capable of transporting it where and when it is needed.

It reads: “Last year Scottish households, along with those across GB, paid a total of £1.94 billion to wind farms which had to be turned off because the national electricity grid couldn’t cope with the power they would have produced.

“Without new power lines, pylons and substations that figure could surpass £3.5bn in 2030 - a near-£200 increase in annual electricity bills for British households”.

Research conducted for the Scottish Renewables report found that every mile of overhead powerline built would enable renewable energy to displace more than 10,000 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.