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Crossroads of clean energy: what do the experts think?

As the first winter election since 1923 looms over the country, and politicians put forward ambitious policies in the hope of winning favour, we’ve taken the time to sit down with fellow experts from the clean energy sector and consider the impact the wave of government announcements released throughout the year will have on the UK energy system.

The summer of 2019 brought with it a raft of announcements and consultations from government, setting out its plans and commitments to tackle climate change, such as net zero, and enhance the UK’s clean energy system.

TLT’s clean energy specialists recently came together with experts from Cornwall Insight, RBS, Ørsted, Deloitte and Vattenfall to host a ‘future of clean energy’ panel debate. The panel discussed a range of challenges faced by the sector and considered ways to overcome those hurdles as our demand for clean energy intensifies.

It was widely agreed that, while the sector is showing positive signs of growth, it is likely that the road to achieving net zero will have many bumps and challenges along the way. As the saying goes, where there’s a will there’s a way, but while there is certainly a willingness to collaborate across the sector, the way everything is going to be delivered remains much less clear.

Horizon scanning

What we do know is that over the next decade, the clean energy market will look fundamentally different to what we see today. New technologies are emerging and there’s increased activity across the clean energy mix. Increased investment in battery storage and multi-technology EV projects looks set to continue, and investment in the UK clean energy market remains strong, despite the uncertainties posed by Brexit.

Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), in which a business agrees to purchase electricity directly from an energy generator, were discussed as an important part of the solution, particularly in a subsidy-free world. But while this is seeing a gradual increase in uptake, the introduction of a standardised and simple structure is required to make the process work, especially in cases with multiple stakeholders and to encourage SMEs to join the market.

The panellists discussed the need for government support to drive the market forward, and there were calls for certainty in the form of a sensible, strategic energy policy – produced in line with relevant planning policy – to get everyone moving in the right direction and at speed.

It was noted, however, that if the desired guidance and incentives from government weren’t forthcoming, the industry, in the form of collaboration between developers and corporates, would need to bite the bullet and deliver regardless. Catch up on our previous article for more on how partnerships will help unlock EV charging infrastructure.

While the discussions made clear that there is a continued call for regulatory clarity and stability, the panel was pleased to see developers, debt funders and investors engaging in the delivery of subsidy-free and multi-technology projects in both traditional and emerging areas. Corporates will certainly have an important role to play in delivering the wider sustainability agenda, and collaboration will be vital in supporting the market’s determination in meeting the UK’s ambitious targets.

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This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at November 2019. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms and conditions

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