We welcome the UK government’s recent decision to support a net zero statutory remit for the power regulator in the forthcoming Energy Bill. The amendment to Ofgem’s mandate is critical: it will empower the regulator to fast-track grid connections for renewables over fossil fuels. What matters now is speedy and determined implementation.
To express our support and underline the need for action, we helped coordinate a collective letter from various stakeholders to Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for the newly formed Department of Energy Security and Net Zero. Various investors, companies, industry associations, and consumer groups have signed the letter.
As it stands, government prevarication on net zero is leading to a growing problem of stranded renewables, stranded battery power and stranded net zero ambitions. Ofgem's lack of clear net zero remit has contributed to a growing backlog in renewables projects that are waiting – in some cases over 10 years – to get a grid connection. National Grid estimates that about 600 projects with a combined capacity of 176GW (our current capacity is just 64GW) are waiting to connect to the grid.
Aside from connection prioritisation, the regulator has also failed to ensure that investments in the transmission networks to bring wind from, for example, offshore in Scotland onto the system.
At a time when the UK faces climate and energy security crises – and urgently needs to incentivise private investment in the power infrastructure – the government should be working tirelessly to unblock access to the grid.
Why we are encouraged
Having initially opposed the amendment to Ofgem’s remit, we were pleased to see the government change tack. Ofgem should now be empowered to prioritise net zero investments in the grid. We should finally see waiting lists for renewables to connect to the grid coming down.
What matters now is delivery. The government needs to ensure that Ofgem is equipped to implement its new mandate at speed. Other obstacles need identifying – including by Ofgem – and acting on. We will continue to press for determined action.