6 September 2022

The journey to net zero is not a straight road. There are countless hurdles in the way to achieving net-zero carbon emissions. One of the biggest challenges facing renewable energy in the UK is a lack of electricity capacity. Failure to upgrade the National Grid is holding back the green revolution and delaying thousands of renewable energy projects.

Research by the Financial Times suggests that some developers are facing up to a decade’s delay in connecting new renewable energy capacity to the national grid. Such delays are set to put the UK’s net-zero target of 2050 out of reach. At Green Switch Capital, we’re calling on the government and the national grid to step up development to realise the UK’s renewable energy potential.

We’re exploring the issues facing the green revolution and how electricity capacity is holding back the potential of renewable energy. Overcoming our limited electricity capacity is essential for achieving net zero by 2050.

The Struggles of the National Grid

The UK is constantly increasing its expectations of the renewable energy industry. The government has set out a goal of doubling the existing renewable generation capacity. This plan includes adding an extra 50GW of offshore wind by 2030, 70GW of solar power by 2035, and 24GW of nuclear by 2050.

Private developments are vital to realising this goal. Except there is one major hurdle in the way- connecting to the national grid’s regional distribution networks. Constraints on the national grid mean that some projects are having to wait between six to ten years to connect to the network.

One area where issues with electricity capacity are reaching new heights is in Wales. NFU Cymru, the farming union, has said that electricity capacity is holding back farmers and landowners who want to produce clean, renewable energy. The organisation points to Wales’ huge untapped potential and how the lack of electricity capacity is creating a significant problem.

The Potential of Renewable Energy for Farmers

Many farmers are keen to take advantage of renewable energy schemes. Repurposing disused agricultural land provides the potential to tackle skyrocketing energy costs and earn passive income. The agriculture industry also plays a vital role in reducing carbon emissions and achieving net zero.

The major hurdle standing in the way of farmers is the lack of capacity in the electricity network. Many farmers trying to enter the industry themselves have found it impossible to get a grid connection due to insufficient availability.

At Green Switch Capital, we’re here to bring the potential of your land to life. Our team are experts in renewable energy and will oversee every step of the process. We’re here to help farmers and landowners by streamlining the process. 

The cost of connecting to the grid is another hurdle farmers have to face. By choosing to lease your land, you can enjoy the benefits of renewable energy and earn passive income without the headaches of navigating the complex energy system.

Diversifying into renewable energy is a way for farmers and landowners to future-proof their businesses. It’s more vital than ever for us to maximise our renewable energy production in the face of the climate crisis.

Upgrading an Out-Dated Electricity Grid

The problem rests with an outdated electricity grid with infrastructure that hasn’t been updated in line with renewable energy evolution. This ‘chicken and egg problem’ means more generators are wanting to connect to the grid than it has the capacity for. Network operators are now struggling to update the electricity grid in line with demand.

The electricity grid has fundamentally changed from the days of power stations and transmission systems. Joining smaller assets and plants means too much electricity can be produced within a distribution network. Adding smaller systems, including solar farms and rooftop solar panels, is vital to maximising the potential of renewables.

Improving electricity capacity on the grid means excess electricity could be fed elsewhere in the country to produce a zero-carbon system. Solving the electricity capacity problem won’t be simple. Upgrading the grid will take the cooperation of distribution network operators, the government, and transmission owners.

Solving the Electricity Capacity Problem

The UK is committed to achieving net zero by 2050. It’s a vital component in tackling climate change. We need to solve the electricity capacity problem as quickly as possible. While new infrastructure is key, this timeline threatens to make it impossible to achieve interim net-zero targets.

Part of the issue with infrastructure upgrades is cost. The National Grid is an FTSE 100 company and privatised. Ofgem regulates the charges that monopolies can pass onto consumers, reducing potential avenues of investment. Surcharges are the main way of funding the cost of the distribution network.

The pressure of the National Grid is easy to see from the number of applications for connections. Historically, it received 40 connection applications a year. This number has now jumped to over 400 from renewable energy suppliers.

Planning procedures also play a vital role in increasing capacity. The industry is ready to play its role in achieving net-zero on track with the government’s 2030 and 2050 targets. The failure to coordinate strategy has meant that different parts of the sector are not moving in unison. It’s how we’ve gotten to a stage when production has grown beyond capacity.

Improving the Green Energy Industry

We’re committed to realising the potential of renewable technology and moving the green energy industry into the future. Green Switch Capital specialises in solar, wind, and battery storage. We work alongside hundreds of landowners to help Britain reach net zero carbon emissions and create a biodiversity net gain by 2050.

We can create a sustainable, self-reliant energy market in the UK by working together. Our land leasing programme allows farmers and land owners to benefit from renewable energy while earning a passive income.

Working with Green Switch Capital will streamline the process of getting planning permission, overseeing construction, and linking up to the electricity grid. You can find out more about our land leasing programme by contacting our team here.