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Ofgem pledge to tackle “unacceptable delays” in low-carbon connections

Solar Panels, Wind Farms and Battery Storage unit

The UK energy regulator is promising system reforms to connect more low-carbon projects to the gird, supporting concerns voiced by Betterworld Solutions members and others that renewable energy projects are facing unacceptable delays.

In a speech to the Utility Week conference in Birmingham the chief executive of Ofgem, Jonathan Brearley, told energy bosses that the slow pace of connections to the grid was not compatible with the UK ambitions on cost, security or Net Zero.
“It is the biggest risk to decarbonising the power system by 2035, and it is clear we need to go further and faster to get renewable sources of power onto the grid as quickly as possible”, he added.
Among the “unacceptable” consequences of the current system, Jonathan Brearley said that at present some 20% of generation capacity in the transmission queue will have to wait for a further 10 years before they reach their offered connection dates, while 40% of projects have been offered connection dates beyond 2030.
The Ofgem chief executive said that the connection queue was being held up, in some cases, by “zombie projects” that would never get built.
Recently, the trade body Solar Energy UK said that the biggest obstacle facing new solar projects is a lack of capacity in the electricity grid. Many projects have been told that they have a 10- to 15-year wait to get a connection, with one given a 2037 deadline.
This echoes AESSEAL’s analysis, published on the Betterworld Solutions website, based on our own experience, research and interviews with members who have been investing in rooftop solar but are finding that there’s a financial disincentive due to lack of grid-level battery storage.
Jonathan Brearley has previously been on record as saying that Ofgem should be “the de facto UK regulator for Net Zero”. One of the problems with the UK electricity supply chain is that despite government departments being aligned with the 2008 Climate Change Act, the regulator’s remit remains unchanged since its establishment.
This means it does not have an explicit mandate to reduce greenhouse gases, leading it to focus on prices and competition, which has led to short-term considerations getting priority rather than the negative longer-term impacts of climate change.

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