Over the last few weeks it feels like Net Zero and policy is never out of the news – and there has been a lot of news to compete with. There has been disappointing news for example around offshore wind, there have been changes in UK policy and there has also been really positive news such as the staggering green growth globally giving hope for 1.5 degrees

Reading this news and reflecting on conversations with clients and colleagues alike in the energy sector it is hard to escape some consistent themes.

Inevitably, grid constraints and upgrading the infrastructure feature at the top of this list. Not just connections and capacity enable to uptake but also upgrading and the resilience of the network. Such is the pressure on the Grid that it has even made it into Rishi Sunak’s speech and we are told by DESNZ that they are seized of the importance of this

National Grid released in March a five point plan to expedite connections and that is to be welcomed with a queue of 395GW at the time of writing - and rising. It is understood that they are hoping extra capacity and projects will now start to come forward in the next few weeks. This is a really welcome step.

National Grid has also begun a programme of longer term reform, which it forecasts will make recommendations in November and create a more effective – and coordinated - first ready approach to connections. Although of course a new system is only going to work if the five point plan delivers results and frees up capacity. To be effective this reform must be balanced and fair and we need to see consistency between the DNOS.

Coming close on the heels of grid frustrations is the aforementioned planning and this centres both on the lack of consistency and policy conflicts but also, put simply, the sheer time it takes to get a project through planning. Now added to that is the complexity of aligning some distant grid connection dates with the land agreements and commencement of planning.

As a sector we long wear the battle scars of many legislation changes but this is an area crying out for clarity and also joined up thinking. Is the country getting behind onshore wind or not? Are we pursuing Hydrogen and if so for what and how? How do you coordinate networks? Do we have the skills and capacity to upgrade the grid infrastructure?

And there is also some joined up thinking around waste required. If we accept that we live in a consumer society and people may use less over time (maybe) we need to accept there will always be some waste even after things are recycled, repurposed and reused and how we deal with that in an appropriate way. Use will not radically decrease and therefore there must be a focus on carbon capture and innovation in the way we deal with residual waste.

The final consistent theme is biodiversity. Biodiversity loss is one of the most knotty problems to be untangled. The current rate of extinction is both alarming and accelerating. Thinking in this area needs to be central to the joined up thinking and not an add-on to planning or just an agriculture issue.

As a country and a sector we have the skills and national drive to take forward the net zero agenda but without tackling these key themes we cannot benefit from the economic benefits decarbonising could provide.

Learn more about how our Energy Team can help you here.

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