The UK will likely fail to meet its target of decarbonising the power sector by 2035, a group of MPs have said while urging the government to accelerate its low-carbon electricity plans.
A report from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEISC) has called on the government to “rapidly” increase the generation of fossil fuel-free electricity or risk facing limits to the volume of electric vehicles and heat pumps that can be powered through low-carbon electricity.
The body said that, at the current pace, the UK is risking its efforts to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, while also being stuck paying more for energy.
Meanwhile, some low-carbon projects are facing delays of up to fifteen years to connect to the electricity network due to a failure to create joined-up policies across the sector.
“The creation of a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, which we support, must provide the impetus for turning this around,” BEISC said.
“The government must become more involved in co-ordinating delivery, including the provision of an overarching delivery plan, reporting on national progress and unlocking problems more quickly.”
It recommended that energy regulator Ofgem be given a net zero mandate and warned that large subsidies from competing countries, such as the US Inflation Reduction Act, are starting to hurt the UK’s competitiveness in the sector.
Developers of renewable energy projects in the UK are facing substantial cost inflation and windfall tax exemptions less generous than those given to the oil and gas sector, the report said, which is risking the viability of many renewable projects.
BEISC chairman Darren Jones said: “Ministers think that publishing strategies and releasing social media videos will deliver the energy infrastructure the country needs. It’s failed before and it keeps failing.
“The UK is now competing with the US and Europe for investment. Government must urgently make us an attractive investment proposition again and ensure that the pool of capital and labour available for building low-carbon energy projects is not lost.”
The report said that a response to overseas competition would be needed to maintain strong investment in low-carbon energy alongside upgrades to transmission and distribution networks.
Elsewhere, it called for the de facto ban on new onshore wind facilities to be lifted while the UK’s ports need the capacity to support greater offshore wind ambitions.
It suggests efforts to prioritise work to support long-duration energy storage, as well as more decisions needed on the future use of hydrogen across the economy.
In response, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said: “We are taking real decisions to benefit this country: to deliver a secure, low-cost and low-carbon energy system, to decarbonise the UK’s electricity system by 2035, and to reduce energy bills across the UK.”
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