STA wary of “gaps” in Ofgem decarbonisation plan, makes recommendations

The Solar Trade Association (STA) has warned of gaps when it comes to decentralised renewable energy technologies in Ofgem’s Decarbonisation Action Plan.

On 21 February, the STA issued a response, stating that while the programme did reflect progress, there were “stark omissions and substantive concerns” for the renewables and storage sectors. It highlighted how despite “growing recognition” for the role utility scale, commercial and residential scale solar and storage will have in achieving a net zero smart, flexible system, there was no further mention of solar in the decarbonisation programme.

The STA also noted that the development of subsidy-free renewable energy and storage requires a stable, supportive regulatory framework and one that recognises the technologies’ value. It concluded that Ofgem-led reforms had resulted in the opposite – uncertainty, instability and detrimental changes – and risk delaying electricity sector decarbonisation.

In its response, the STA made 10 recommendations, including that Ofgem outlines how progress of its decarbonisation programme will be tracked and monitored; that all forms of renewable generation and low carbon flexibility are sufficiently incentivised through the next network price controls and regulatory framework; and that Ofgem endeavour to align reform processes where possible, something that did not occur with the Targeted Charging Review and Access and Forward-Looking Charges SCR. It explained that the prospect of delivering new, subsidy-free solar projects had been damaged owed to regulatory instability and a failure to align these reforms.

STA Policy Manager, Cameron Witten, said: “Whilst Ofgem has begun to scratch the surface of how it can support the transition to Net Zero, the action plan has several omissions relating to the renewables and energy storage sector that are mission critical to accelerating the deployment of solar. It is essential that Ofgem carefully considers how it will evolve Britain’s power networks to ensure solar and other decentralised low-carbon technologies can fulfil their part in decarbonising the energy sector, by tackling significant barriers, including grid connection difficulties, generation constraints and disproportionate network charging.”