Energy transition: UK in European “relegation zone” says new report

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A new report has revealed that the UK is lagging behind other countries in preparing for the energy transition.
The Energy Transition Readiness Index (ETRI) 2022 - produced by the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) and sponsored by Eaton and Eversheds Sutherland - assesses and compares the readiness of 13 European countries’ electricity markets.
The European industry study suggests that the deployment of demand-side flexibility resources could result in annual cost savings of up to some €300 per customer in 2030, plus annual savings of 37.5 million tonnes in GHG emissions. A similar study in the UK suggested that annual savings of up to £600 per customer could be realised in 2050.
However, while highlighting the UK’s ‘ambitious long-term goals’, ETRI 2022 said that ‘current policy priorities appear more focused on the short-term’ leading to ‘increased investment uncertainty. It means that, out of the countries assessed, the UK is one of the worst European performers with regards to energy transition readiness.
Energy transition governance and regulation, grid access delays, and unfavourable flexibility markets all are highlighted as barriers which will hold back the deployment of renewable energy in the UK. In addition, the energy crisis has seen a decline in both public and political confidence in the costs associated with the energy transition. However, the REA is clear that the long-term financial impact of slowing the energy transition will be severe.
Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO REA, said: “As ETRI 2022 makes clear, despite the warm rhetoric from the government, the UK is lagging behind many other countries in preparing for the energy transition - if this was a league table, the UK would be in the relegation zone.
“We now need to see significant action from the government to remove the barriers facing our industry: proper long-term planning; prioritising and accelerating market reforms; and urgently addressing current investment barriers - all are desperately needed to help put the UK on the right path.
“I don’t underestimate the challenge ahead of us, but the cost of the government moving too slowly on preparing for the energy transition is simply too great. Our country is in the midst of a severe energy crisis, but the government will store up even greater problems for the future if they don’t act now.”
Siobahn Meikle, managing director for Eaton UK and Ireland, said: “As a global power management company, we see that businesses around the world are picking up the pace towards net zero, spurred on by the energy crisis to examine technologies such as renewable energy generation, energy storage systems and the energy flexibility benefits of EV charging infrastructure. Governments must match burgeoning business enthusiasm with policies to deliver the fair, transparent and easily accessible markets that will seal private investments in the energy transition. As the ETRI report shows, the Nordic countries provide a model. Britain, together with other countries that are trailing in the rankings, must catch up.”
Stephen Hill, partner at Eversheds Sutherland, said: “Everybody is agreed on the need for change – but this report highlights how urgent that has now become for the UK and certain other European jurisdictions. A transition to clean energy is in everyone’s interests; it will help hit vital environmental targets, save consumers money and provide the energy security so vitally needed at present.  There is a dynamic and committed clean energy sector that is keen to move to the next level.
“What is now needed is for governments to dismantle the unnecessary barriers for investors and to market growth. The alternatives are too costly – at all levels – to contemplate.”

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