MPs warn energy crisis looms without urgent fixes

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Slow grid connections and a lack of clear plans for energy storage are hindering the UK’s efforts to decarbonise the energy system.

The Environmental Audit Committee found that many renewable energy projects face difficulties accessing the electricity grid due to slow connections, limited capacity, planning regulations and market uncertainty.

The current demand to access the grid is high, with the queue containing more than twice the generation capacity needed to meet the government’s 2035 decarbonisation target.

Despite attempts by Ofgem and the Electricity System Operator (ESO) to speed up the process by introducing key milestones for projects, these changes have not yet reduced the connection queue’s length, the EAC said.

The committee recommends that the government and Ofgem actively monitor and streamline initiatives to deliver faster grid connections.

Ofgem is urged to review its milestone queue reforms to advance ready projects to the front.

The planning system is also identified as a bottleneck, with local authorities often lacking resources and expertise to accelerate clean energy projects.

The report suggests the government ensure local authorities have the necessary personnel and expertise to make quick planning decisions and engage with local communities.

The report stresses the importance of low carbon energy storage to achieve net zero goals and maintain energy security.

The committee notes that the necessary scale of energy storage facilities and the actions required for long term storage are not well understood.

Clear strategic direction is needed to secure private investment and deliver grid-scale energy storage.

The committee recommends the government address barriers to long term storage urgently, either through direct infrastructure investment or by reforming policy mechanisms.

It calls for an energy storage strategy to be published by 2025.

Philip Dunne, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “The government’s commitment to decarbonising Great Britain’s electricity grid fully by 2035 – increasing capacity by 250% in little over a decade – is one of the most ambitious undertakings by any peacetime government.

“We have seen no evidence that it is achievable any earlier.

“It is beyond question that this project, around which there is a broad consensus, will require an unprecedented level of planning and coordination across government, as well as significant private investment.

“Immediately after the general election, the government must address these concerns as a priority, and set out clearly how it will balance achieving net zero goals with delivery of a secure energy supply.”

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