The year 2030 marks a crucial milestone in the UK’s journey to achieving its goal of being a Net Zero emission society and economy by 2050. By 2030, 95% of the UK’s energy should be coming from low-carbon, primarily renewable sources, and the electricity system should be fully decarbonised by 2035, according to the government’s British Energy Security Strategy.

Achieving these targets involves a substantial increase in wind and solar energy capacities. These efforts are fundamental to ensuring a sustainable and secure energy future for the UK.

As experts in delivering civil engineering solutions for complex power & energy projects, we know firsthand the role engineers are playing in delivering the infrastructure needed to make these goals possible. Power & energy is one of the most carefully regulated engineering sectors, so it is vital to seek expert civil engineering support to avoid costly mistakes or delays on these projects.

Delivering the infrastructure for a renewable future

“Achieving a renewable energy network requires the integration of new energy sources into the grid and the efficient conveyance of energy to centres of demand across the UK,” says Asa Whitfield, Managing Director at Whitfield Consulting Services (WCS).

Government targets include boosting wind energy from 11GW to 50GW by 2030 and solar energy from 14GW to 70GW by 2035.

To realise these ambitious targets, the National Grid is undertaking what it calls the largest overhaul of the grid in generations: the Great Grid Upgrade. This project represents a £4.5 billion investment in network construction by 2030, a monumental effort to modernise and enhance the UK’s energy infrastructure.

“By working together, we can connect more clean, renewable energy from where it’s generated out at sea to where it’s needed, helping contribute to lower energy bills over the long term, providing a catalyst for a green jobs boom and making the UK’s energy more self-sufficient,” says Matt Staley, National Grid’s Director of Onshore Delivery.

Civil engineers are playing a key role in delivering the infrastructure needed to achieve a renewable energy future. Their expertise is vital in several key areas.

Establishing a stable, reliable energy supply

“Civil engineers are involved in implementing solutions to manage the variability and intermittency of renewable energy sources, helping to ensure a reliable energy supply,” says Nick Lowe, Director at WCS.

“Technologies, including synchronous condensers and battery energy storage systems (BESS), are being used to regulate and stabilise the energy supply, helping to ensure that energy is available when and where it is needed.”

To understand more about how civil engineers are working with these devices, read our articles:

New substations and transmission networks

“Establishing new substations and transmission networks to bring energy generated offshore to onshore centres is essential to secure the future of the UK’s energy security,” says Matt Smith, Associate at WCS.

Key projects include the Viking Link, a major submarine power cable that enables electricity to be exchanged between Great Britain and Denmark, and the creation of Dogger Bank, the world’s biggest offshore wind farm.

“WCS has been involved with both of these projects; we understand how the success of these projects relies on expert civils design and consultation,” says Matt.  

Read our case studies for further insight:

Capture and use of waste heat

Waste heat is generated by various industrial processes and energy production.

“Waste heat is often discarded,” says Matt. “But it can be repurposed to generate electricity or provide heating. Nuclear power stations, for example, have an efficiency of about 35%, meaning that for every watt of energy produced, about 2 watts are lost in the form of heat sent into nearby bodies of water and air.

“Utilising waste heat across the energy network could help deliver efficiency, reduce demand from other energy sources, and create joined-up solutions to power a more sustainable future.”

WCS was the consultant engineer in the SELCHP project, where rubbish collected by Westminster City Council’s electric refuse collection fleet is incinerated within a waste-to-energy facility; the very waste collected powers the collection vehicles and street cleaning vehicles.

To understand more, read our article and case study:

Why choose WCS for your power & energy projects?

“Power & energy is one of the most carefully regulated engineering sectors,” says Asa. “These projects all involve civil engineering aspects that must adhere to specific and detailed standards. To avoid costly errors and delays, and identify the optimal solution to each challenge, it is vital to work with a partner with experience of similar projects.

“WCS has extensive experience in the power & energy sector, making us a reliable partner for your next project.”

Engaging with a design consultant like WCS offers numerous benefits, including expert guidance, innovative solutions, and a proven track record of successful project delivery.

“Everything has to be right first time,” adds Asa. “Not just the overall engineering – we need to have sought the correct permissions, satisfied the relevant standards, and forgotten no detail. An engineer without sector-specific experience may not realise until late on that there is an unaddressed requirement, especially given that you’re dealing with very complex programmes of work.”

Read more here: The value of specialist support from your engineering design consultant during power and energy projects

Download our power & energy guide

Are you working to transform the UK energy network? Discover how our expert support can help you successfully deliver your next project. Download our comprehensive guide to learn more about our services and expertise in the power & energy sector. Download for free here.

To find out more about our power & energy services get in touch by emailing or calling +44 (0)20 3581 7847.