Some were celebrating on Friday and some spent the weekend in gloomy contemplation, but many of us are just keen to get on with the task at hand – delivering net zero – and will be grateful that at least some distractions are out of the way.
The Conservatives have been in power for nearly a decade and it seems that they are not looking to make any radical changes to the direction of energy policy, but there is much to be said for consistency in what has been a turbulent time for the industry. For now, there will be consistency of leadership at BEIS, with Kwasi Kwarteng remaining the energy minister, but rumours of machinery of government changes in February may bring more upheaval, including bringing the Dept for Energy and Climate Change back out of the Dept for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (after being merged by Theresa May in 2016).
A decade to make a difference
2020 marks the first year of a decade to that all important deadline of 2030 identified by the IPCC. We have a decade to make a difference, and we need radical action if we’re to achieve it. A key theme for our work this year will be one of urgency – we are working with local authorities as they declare climate emergencies and we’ll be working on a series of papers entitled ‘A Decade to Make a Difference‘.
There will be some key turning points next year: the net zero review from the Treasury will be a critical step to putting the machinery of government on a serious net zero footing, leadership from local authorities will step up, for example on EVs and social housing energy efficiency, as they start to publish and even deliver their climate emergency plans. One of the most important changes from senior leadership we need to see is Ofgem taking on a concrete responsibility for decarbonisation. Many will be disappointed that the Queen’s speech made no mention of the Energy White Paper – a much anticipated and necessary step for change in the energy industry.
In the storage world, we hope that the change to remove storage from the national planning regime will come through and we’ll start to see larger projects, over 50 MW, getting their planning applications in. Batteries will continue to dominate, but hopefully the Conservatives’ confidence in technology will result in investment in different types of storage technologies. We may also start to see the conversation about the mineral supply chain ramping up and perhaps leading to action.
If we’re to truly address the emergency we face, we will need more clarity from above and more ambition, but if that is not forthcoming, the industry needs to try and achieve that independently. The surge in Green voters shows that public appetite for action on the climate emergency is increasing and we must do our best to deliver for them in 2020.