Ofgem accelerates green grid connections to boost UK’s Net-Zero ambitions

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Solar panels wind turbines installed as renewable energy sources for electricity and power supply.

The British energy regulator, Ofgem, announced a policy review aimed at expediting the connection of low-carbon energy schemes to the national power grid. The review is seen as a key step in accelerating Britain’s transition towards cleaner energy and increasing energy independence amid escalating global energy prices, particularly following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UK government has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, a target that demands a significant ramping up of renewable power generation, such as wind and solar energy. As part of this commitment, Britain has also laid out a goal to decarbonise its electricity supplies by 2035, thereby reducing the country’s dependence on imported gas.

However, the industry has raised concerns over the potential stumbling blocks. Project developers have warned that difficulties in connecting new projects to the power grid could pose challenges to reaching these climate targets.

As it stands, about 20% of the generation capacity awaiting connection is expected to be delayed by a further decade. More alarmingly, over 40% of capacity, equivalent to around 120 gigawatts (GW), has been given connection dates of 2030 or later, according to Ofgem.

The current system also places new project connection requests at the back of the queue, even if preceding projects have stalled or are not progressing. This method of queue management has been criticised for slowing down the overall process.

Addressing these issues, Ofgem outlined potential solutions in an open letter to the energy sector. The regulator suggested a range of short, medium, and long-term reforms to make the power grid more compatible with the net-zero transition.

In the short term, Ofgem expressed support for proposals made by the National Grid’s Electricity System operator. These proposals include the development of new contracts for connections, which would facilitate the removal of non-progressing projects from the queue, thereby speeding up the overall connection process.

In the long term, Ofgem stressed the need for improvements to the connection process. Specifically, the regulator recommended prioritising projects that are ready for immediate connection.

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