Britain will miss government goals to strip all carbon from electricity generation by 2035, without a delivery plan to remedy incomplete, contradictory policy from Whitehall and inflexible planning rules, MPs on Parliament’s energy committee warn.
Ministers’ lack of an overarching delivery plan in last month’s Powering Up Britain road map, and their lack of ownership of whole system costs has created “policy silos and sequencing problems”, the committee says.
Connection delays of up to 15 years for new wind and solar plants are among barriers outlined in the D-BEIS committee’s report into decarbonising power.
Repeated government omissions in policy delivery, including leaving new onshore turbines in England prey to planning snags, no mass programme to insulate homes, inadequate support for long-duration storage and lack of clarity on funding new nuclear & implementing hydrogen policy, belie ministers’ boasts on Net Zero, say the MPs.
Britain’s renewables developers face tax barriers higher than those in oil and gas, leaving the sector lagging in the global race for investment capital. Green generation’s attractiveness to financiers has faded in the months of the committee’s report, it alleges.
“A resolute focus on delivery is now essential”, the committee urges.
“The process to secure a grid connection must be overhauled,” the report urges. Charged with a clearer mandate to deliver Net Zero, “Ofgem needs to approve investment in networks ahead of need. Network owners need to deliver on their business plans”.
Planning guidance better aligned with decarbonisation goals is critical, delivered quicker by properly resourced authorities, the MPs urge.
Reform of energy retailing must leave customers at the heart of the transition, says the report. Demand-side flexibility must be treated as an equal partner to supply.
Among nearly 30 recommendations, the committee back calls from the Climate Change Committee & the National Audit Office for ministers to publish a comprehensive delivery plan, itemising milestones towards 2035’s decarbonisation goal.
On nuclear, the government must publish costs of its ambition to deliver 24GW of new capacity, says the committee, and remove uncertainties about use of the controversial Regulated Asset Base model.
Due this year, the promised strategy document substantiating ministers’ Great British Nuclear initiative should set out alternative routes for delivery, including financing options.
Green energy lobbyists the REA warmly supported the committee’s views. Its chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska commented:
“As well as streamlining the current pipeline of renewables, the UK must act decisively to ensure that green investment is not diverted away from the UK to other jurisdictions as a result of stronger incentives elsewhere”.