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Utility scale grid investment and stable policy key to achieving clean energy goals says expert

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According to the National Grid a £60 billion investment in the electricity network is required over the next five years, but it is not sitting on even 10% of that capital. 

The incoming government will therefore need ‘utility-scale investment’ from the private sector for grid improvements to support new clean energy systems.

Bruce Woodman MD of PEP Renewables talks about grid investment and clean energy policy

That’s the view of Bruce Woodman, managing director of clean energy specialists PEP Renewables (pictured left), who has shared his thoughts on the ‘pro-renewables’ policies that the next government must initiate to support our transition to net zero, which he has highlighted as the “biggest energy industry upheaval for over 50 years”.

Mr Woodman argues that a prolonged period of stable, positive, low-carbon policy would help to boost the nation’s energy security and prosperity, align with the positive public opinion that exists across voters of all political persuasions, and allow the UK to compete for investment on the international stage. 

Key policy asks include:

      • Streamlining the planning process for onshore wind, including an end to the de facto ban on new turbines in England, and solar PV by providing national standards proportionate to the scale of the development
      • Setting national planning and environmental processes for the development of renewables-to-hydrogen projects
      • Restructuring the requirements on the Electricity System Operators (ESO) (National Grid, Scottish Power, SSE) to provide fast and transparent connection procedures
      • Restructuring the requirements on the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to provide fast and transparent connection procedures
      • Grandfathering government support scheme rights at project level to remove investment risk
      • Encouraging ownership of renewable energy projects by companies for their own use through tax breaks

As grid-scale change can take many years, Mr Woodman fears that we are likely to see a shortage of green energy and higher costs. However, the industrial and commercial sector can deliver company-scale change now by choosing to own and operate renewables either on- or near-site (within 10 km). Ownership delivers secure, green electricity and Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) that are greenwash-free. That green electricity can be used to power, heat and refuel transport for businesses, turning each company’s energy transition goals into actions.

Onshore wind and solar PV pay back the carbon used to build them in around a year, and then produce zero-carbon electricity at around a third of the cost of Hinkley ‘C’ for 25 years or more. Furthermore, they can be developed and built quickly.

According to Mr Woodman, the policy recommendations made above would provide the impetus for many more businesses to own and operate on-site renewables.

Owning the means of energy production gives companies control over their energy supply, security and costs: boosting profits, providing essential energy security, and having a genuine plan to deliver on net zero goals.

This election is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address the transition to net zero with long-term cost and energy security benefits for business. This change must start by providing policy and regulatory certainty.

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