Driving the energy change across the region
One thing that all stakeholders agree on is that decarbonisation of the National Grid is a key step on our journey. To address this, we can use our voice and influence to put pressure on both local and national government to ensure that their policy, funding, and regulations align with our collective 2030 goals. Collectively we can be a driving force for the change that is needed locally.
Getting renewable energy exported back to the grid is a critical part of the solution, which is why investment from both Distribution Network Operators and National Grid via Ofgem is critical. Peter White noted the urgency of upgrades - “we need to do this work urgently”.
In addition, enabling the supply of locally-generated renewable electricity direct to local consumers and installing adequate storage for renewable energy will also allow suppliers to provide more renewable energy on demand, and store it when demand dips, reducing the reliance on traditional supply.
Peter Capener explains “Supporting trial projects and innovation in this sector is essential at all levels, as is making regulatory changes that reflect today’s need for local energy supply within communities”. Enabling local consumers to purchase electricity directly from local generators can help motivate consumers to shift demand away from peak times, and with storage, underpin the transition to a more flexible and decarbonised electricity network.
Peter Capener added that “we’ve been limited, like virtually all generators with new grid offers for connection to the distribution network, to one megawatt by a National Grid led review of transmission level network upgrades. We may have to pay even more towards these upgrades and connection could be delayed till 2027/2028 or even later, which then totally destroys any chance of getting the 2030 carbon reduction targets we talked about. So trying to find a path through this transmission level impact on distribution level connections is going to be critical”.
Lee Chadwick noted that integrating renewable energy supply into new build homes is a key part of the puzzle, and that while new build regulations are set to see increased solar panel installation over the coming years, there’s still plenty of roof space going underutilised; “you’ll have a lovely big roof and you’ll have four solar panels on it, so 1.2 kilowatts where you could have 7 or 8 kilowatts on that house - it’s such an underutilised space.”
Peter White agreed, suggesting that “every new house is at least an EPC ‘A’, and they come with a complete suite of LCT so it makes each house a power station and its own right.”
On the separate topic of outdated rules governing circumstances in which you don’t need a licence to supply electricity, Stuart Urquhart suggested that “lobbying pressure on the government to accelerate its response to a call for evidence, which it issued last year on exactly this topic, but which has gone very silent” would be a helpful way to accelerate change.
With today’s children set to experience 6 career changes in their lifetime, some of which are yet to be invented, addressing the skills shortage in the renewables sector has to start with training. Increasing the availability of courses, including online and short course options, will help to meet the demand from both engaged young people and the shortfall in the sector.
Joanne Philpott noted that funding to encourage transitional skills, such as EV charging skills for electricians, would help people with existing skills to build a career in a more sustainable industry.
The Apprenticeship Levy, which allows larger businesses to use money from their digital fund to pay for apprentices, is a great way to support upskilling as well as to bring more trained professionals into key sectors to combat the climate crisis. Joanne advised that “at the minute most big companies are not able to spend their levy”, therefore there is an opportunity to encourage more businesses to take advantage of this training support.