CCC urges government to pick up pace on decarbonising power

A report published today (9th March 2023) by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has highlighted the scale in achieving the government’s goal of a decarbonised power system by 2035.

The report contains insights on the importance of developing a climate-resilient power system, and detailed modelling to illustrate requirements of the 2035 system using historical weather data, stress-tested with an extreme scenario of a prolonged period of low wind.

The CCC outlines 25 new recommendations to improve the prospects of delivery. It argues that alongside the government’s Energy Security Strategy commitments to renewables and nuclear, we need new low-carbon back-up generation, with hydrogen-based power stations and some continued use of fossil gas made low-carbon through use of carbon capture and storage.

We also need sharp shifting of consumer demand to help smooth peaks and absorb excess supply, CCC said, especially through controlled timing of electric vehicle charging and use of heat pumps.

Additionally, it calls for new storage solutions beyond the use of batteries, highlighting the most critical as the utilisation of surplus generation to produce hydrogen through electrolysis (‘green hydrogen’) providing long-term storage so it can later be used to generate electricity.

“For 15 years, the Climate Change Committee’s main recommendation has been to decarbonise British electricity,” said Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee. “The offer of cheap, decarbonised electricity for every consumer and business is now within reach, thanks to pioneering efforts to develop renewables.

“Now there is more at stake. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought home the fundamental importance of energy security. A reliable energy system based mainly on the UK’s plentiful renewable resources now has new significance.”


Lord Deben described government as ‘asleep at the wheel’ and added that recent commitments for new nuclear and renewables are welcome but insufficient, calling for a ‘rapid overhaul’ of the planning system and regulations.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA), an industry body that represents the UK’s electricity and gas network operator, welcomed the report and is renewing its calls for Ofgem to be given a net zero mandate to help ensure that the gas and electricity investment decisions they make are aligned with the 2035 target.

In a statement following the report’s publication, the ENA said that network operators should have more flexibility to invest in infrastructure now, so that network capacity is ready when it is needed.

The current regulatory environment, which favours investing at the point of need, risks slowing delivery down and planning should be reformed to ensure a ‘coherent delivery framework’, ENA concluded.

“The CCC’s report makes clear that the solution to this challenge must involve both gas and electricity, yet policy progress is lacking,” said Lawrence Slade, chief executive of ENA.

“While we welcome the CCC’s assessment of the importance of hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure in delivering decarbonisation, we need to see rapid progress across both renewables and hydrogen deployment to make the 2035 target achievable.

“The networks are ready to invest, innovate and deliver but a lack of political action risks holding decarbonisation back.”