Ofgem Net Zero Duty is a Positive Step Towards a Renewable Energy Future

16th June, 2023

Among the most significant challenges we face in the renewable energy market is the delay to projects caused by grid capacity and connection dates (wait times for which can be more than a decade away).

Supportive regulation and investment in infrastructure to promote renewable energy is absolutely essential if the government is to achieve its legally-binding net zero targets.

At Low Carbon Alliance, we applaud the definitive step the government recently took to improve the development of the renewable energy market and support the country’s energy security by requiring Ofgem to consider how their decisions will help meet the government’s net zero targets.

As an organisation driving forward the decarbonisation of commercial property, we see this as a great opportunity for anyone considering their net zero strategy and investments in renewables like rooftop solar PV or solar farms.

Specifically, the amendment to the Energy Bill has clarified the role of the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (the governing body of Ofgem) in net zero: ‘Ofgem will have a duty to consider, as part of the everyday decisions they make as the regulator, how their decision may assist the Secretary of State in meeting the UK’s net zero targets and carbon budgets.’

According to Ofgem’s CEO Jonathan Brearley:

“This mandate brings us in line with the UK Government’s legal obligations and, for the first time, directly links consumers’ interests to specific net zero targets. We’re clear consumers are best protected by building a low-carbon, low-cost energy system, scaling up long-term investment and stabilising prices with clean energy. The mandate sends a clear message we must end our historic dependency on fossil fuels and stop our exposure to volatile global markets. We’re laying the foundations for the energy system of the future.”

Solar Energy UK (SEUK), of which Low Carbon Alliance is a member, promoted this amendment, which addresses issues the industry has been facing.

SEUK said that grid delays are “partly due to how electricity network upgrades are regulated. The objective of keeping bills low has slowed the pace of investment by electricity network operators into new lines, transformers and switchgear.” This has led to increased consumer costs because of delays in connections for cheaper renewable power.

The amendment reflects the top priorities of the Solar Taskforce, which SEUK helps run with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, which include slashing wait times for grid connections to improve the availability and accessibility of solar energy.

In a recently released consultation on capacity markets, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reminded us that:

…in 2021, with the publication of the Net Zero Strategy, the government committed to delivering a decarbonised electricity system by 2035, subject to security of supply. Most recently, the British Energy Security Strategy (BESS) set out the government’s ambition to accelerate clean, domestic sources of energy in order to reduce exposure to volatile global energy markets, particularly following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Finally, we are seeing concrete actions that will take us toward these ambitious goals.