Ofgem to invest £450m in green energy development
The energy regulator Ofgem has this week announced an investment of £450 million aimed towards projects that will help the UK reach its net zero emissions target. The fund will help energy networks ensure that homes and businesses are greener and more energy efficient, saving money and the environment.
Spread out over the next five years, Ofgem has said that only “bold and ambitious” plans with the potential to be rolled out across the UK will be considered. The projects are expected to range from:
- Heating, such as air-source heat pumps and ground-source heat pumps
- Battery storage technology
- Data and digitalisation
- “Whole system integration”, meaning the journey of electricity from plant to plug
It is hoped that improvements in these areas will help the UK cut its emissions by 68% by 2030, 78% by 2035, and ultimately eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. It is said that the fund could also be extended if strong plans are presented which will continue to help meet these goals.
Innovation at the heart of Ofgem plans
Ofgem’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley underlined the importance of new ideas in moving forward to meet the UK’s climate targets:
What we need, more than ever, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero, is innovation. The strategic innovation fund means cutting-edge ideas and new technologies become a reality, helping us find greener ways to travel, and to heat and power Britain at low cost.
With this in mind, the government has also announced that it will begin to offer carbon reduction workshops to businesses across the UK from this week until the end of the Cop26 climate conference in November.
The workshops will be run by Planet Mark, the government’s net zero certification group, which has already had a certain amount of interaction with UK businesses. The group will travel around the country in an electric bus in order to raise awareness in the business community of the need to reduce their carbon footprint.
Criticism from environmentalists
The workshops scheme has drawn some criticism from certain corners, particularly from climate activists, due to its small scale which is not expected to make an enormous impact. Greenpeace has said that the scheme is reflective of the government’s “wafer thin” commitment to combating climate change, with Greenpeace UK’s senior climate adviser Charlie Kronick adding:
It’s not just the half-hearted gimmicky bus tour which will end in November before the hard work of decarbonising the British economy will really start. It is the transparent hucksterism, the blatant hypocrisy and the almost criminally limited ambition that stands out.
These are strong words which betray a strong frustration with the lack of seriousness and real investment in climate action, which Kronick doubles down on by calling out specific government policies such as “approving new oil exploration in the North Sea, withdrawing the green homes energy efficiency grant, having neither a plan – or even a clue – for clean building heat, and providing completely inadequate support for public transport or active travel.”
It is certainly true that more can be done with regard to climate change at the level of government in the UK, and that many policies continue to fly in the face of real climate action. Let’s hope, however, that this new phase of Ofgem investment in green energy projects will represent a concrete step toward a more sustainable future.