UK energy sector unites behind calls to grant Ofgem 'net zero mandate'

UK energy sector unites behind calls to grant Ofgem 'net
zero mandate'
UK energy sector unites behind calls to grant Ofgem 'net zero mandate'

Open letter to government from Energy Networks Association, Green Alliance, RenewableUK and others warns UK progress towards net zero risks stalling unless Ofgem given net zero mandate

Scores of energy firms, environmental groups and clean tech trade associations have today called on the government to empower Ofgem with a specific net zero mandate in order to accelerate the regulator's efforts to remove barriers to investment towards accelerating the decarbonisation of Britain's energy system.

An open letter addressed to Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps published this morning - which has been signed by the Energy Networks Association (ENA), Green Alliance and RenewableUK among others - warns that without Britain's energy regulator being given a specific mandate to decarbonise the energy system, progress towards the UK's legally-binding net zero emissions targets risks stalling.

"The foundations of our future energy system are already being built and the regulatory decisions that determine our ability to meet the UK's decarbonisation targets are being made by Ofgem today," said Lawrence Slade, chief executive at the ENA, which represents Britain's energy network companies.

"Empowering Ofgem with a net zero mandate will enable strategic investment, removing a clear barrier to investment in the low-cost, low-carbon energy system we are all working towards."

The letter, which has also been co-signed by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), Regen, the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), comes just weeks ahead of the Treasury's upcoming Spring Budget on 15 March.

The government has also been ordered by the High Court to deliver a revamped version of its Net Zero Strategy by the end of the month, while it has also promised to deliver a "fulsome response" to Conservative MP Chris Skidmore's Net Zero Review in the spring or summer.

Today's letter also highlights the Energy Security Bill -which contains a number of energy market provisions and is currently making its way through Parliament - as "the prime opportunity" to deliver the "vital change" to Ofgem's mandate.

The "long term importance of the Energy Security Bill cannot be understated", the letter states.

In addition, it urges the government to publish a "long-awaited" Strategic Policy Statement to Ofgem, which it argues would allow the energy watchdog the chance to "properly incorporate net zero into its decision making".

Other groups to have signed the letter include the Association or Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), the Global Infrastructure Investor Network, and Hydrogen UK.

"Central to the Government's plans to get more EVs on our roads, heat pumps connected, net zero heat networks built, CO2 captured and stored, and the growth of a hydrogen economy, is delivery of energy infrastructure today that meets the government's targets for the future," the letter states. "Government departments and the Future System Operator are all aligned with the 2008 Climate Change Act, and it is vitally important that the regulator be aligned also."

It follows the launch last week of two separate consultations by Ofgem, both setting out proposals to establish a "more decentralised, decarbonised, and dynamic energy system" in Britain, in a bid to prepare for the transformative changes required to build a net zero emission electricity grid by 2035. 

The government was considering a request for comment at the time of going to press.

* This article was originally published here