The United Kingdom's government has unveiled its response to the Climate Change Committee's (CCC) Annual Progress Report, released in June, reaffirming its unwavering commitment to decarbonize the power system by 2035 and to reach a milestone of 50 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2030.
The CCC's recommendations included the identification of low-regret investments in electricity and hydrogen infrastructure, which can be expedited immediately. In alignment with these suggestions, the government acknowledges the pivotal role of accelerating electricity network delivery in achieving its renewable energy ambitions. Consequently, it has already initiated measures to enhance strategic planning and expedite the approval process for regulatory and consenting procedures.
In its official response, the government noted, “Ofgem has accelerated the delivery of nearly £20 billion of strategic transmission projects, and we are supporting them to enable strategic investment in their regulatory frameworks more generally, as set out in the Strategy and Policy statement which is currently out for consultation.”
Furthermore, the CCC's report recommended the establishment of a minister-led infrastructure delivery group, advised by the new Electricity Networks Commissioner. The aim was to ensure the swift progress of initiatives related to energy infrastructure and to implement necessary policy changes across the UK for the realization of a decarbonized and resilient power system by 2035.
While the government's response did not fully embrace the proposal for a minister-led infrastructure delivery group, it outlined plans to institute new minister-led governance processes that concentrate on expediting electricity transmission infrastructure.
In addition to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero's remit, the government emphasized that policy and delivery are further supported by expert advice from bodies like the National Infrastructure Commission and sector-based organizations, such as the Offshore Wind Industry Council. These bodies provide platforms for industry, government, and regulators to collaborate effectively.
Responding to the government's stance, Ana Musat, Executive Director of Policy at RenewableUK, underscored the importance of a successful Contracts for Difference auction in 2024 as the initial step toward achieving the set targets. She noted that rectifying the past year's auction, which attracted no offshore wind bids due to low pricing set by the government, is crucial. Musat expressed anticipation for ministers to outline new parameters when they release the framework for the upcoming auction in November.