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Infrastructure

Ofgem boss: Polite queueing no match for fossil fuel exit

In a bid to expedite the connection of low carbon energy schemes to the electricity grid, Ofgem has announced a significant policy review with a two-year timeline.

The regulator has expressed concerns about the current “first-come, first-served” system, suggesting that it may be phased out to ensure that power generation keeps pace with the rising demand for electricity.

Ofgem has highlighted a concerning trend of stalled, unviable, and speculative projects, often referred to as “zombie” projects, obstructing ready-to-go solar, wind, and other renewable schemes.

Statistics have emerged, revealing that approximately 60% to 70% of over 600 approved high-voltage transmission schemes fail to connect.

Moreover, more than 50% of projects in the transmission queue face a wait of five years or longer before being offered connection dates.

Shockingly, 70% of applications approved in the last year have been assigned connection dates of five years or more, with 25% not receiving dates until 2030 or beyond.

Jonathan Brearley, Chief Executive Officer of Ofgem, will address the Utility Week Live 2023 conference, calling for a practical approach to grid expansion.

He criticises the first-come, first-served system, likening it to queuing for a bus with reserved seats for non-committal passengers.

Brearley emphasises the need to end long connection times that block low carbon projects.

Mr Brearley said: “Polite queuing may be in the very best of British traditions – but the first-come, first-served connections regime is not-fit-purpose if we are to end fossil fuel power within 12 years.

“It is unacceptable energy projects are blocking great low carbon scheme from plugging into the transmission network – with connection times of a decade or more. Ambitious targets are empty words if we can’t get this right. It’s like promising everyone an electric car today but stopping them from driving it until 2033.

“We are dealing with the immediate backlog working with National Grid and industry. It’s good news connection times will be cut by up to ten years alongside other fixes to deal with bottlenecks head-on – but we need to go further and faster in the long term.”

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