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Polythene targets have been irradiated at a maximum flux of 1014 W/cm2 with a focused Nd:glass laser. Spatial extent of the lateral energy transport as a function of the incident laser intensity has been determined using pinhole camera imaging with 12‐μm spatial resolution. The effect of lateral energy transport on the plasma expansion energy scaling has been investigated. The scaling is significantly affected at higher intensities for a smaller irradiation spot.