- Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi
Ten million more electric cars could hit Britain’s roads as Ofgem unveils plans to help decarbonise the country.
Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Gillian Guy said that Ofgem has put forward a road map that recognises the need to protect vulnerable customers.
“People need to understand why these changes are needed, they will need help and support to make those changes and strong consumer protections if things go wrong,” she said.
Her comments come as Jonathan Brearley, the new Ofgem boss, unveiled plans to quadruple offshore wind generation and put 10 million electric vehicles on Britain’s road within a decade.
It aims to help Britain reach the Government’s target of being carbon neutral by the middle of the century.
What’s in the plan?
Ofgem has outlined nine action points that form the basis of its plans:
- Regulate to ensure network companies invest efficiently to deliver affordable clean energy
- Set up a fund to for innovative solutions to tackle climate change
- Support development of an offshore grid for a four-fold increase in offshore wind generation by 2030
- Support government and industry to develop affordable low carbon heating options.
- Review the way the energy system is managed to ensure it is fit for a net zero future
- Encourage more options in the way people use electricity, for example charging electric vehicles at night and selling the power stored in car batteries back at peak times
- Enable drivers to go electric by supporting an energy network to power 10 million electric vehicles by 2030
- Kick start innovation by energy suppliers to create low carbon products and services for consumers
- Take big decisions in a fast-changing environment by being more adaptive in our approach to regulation.
This will require a boom in renewable and low-carbon electricity.
The regulator said this would involve additional costs in the short term, but that delaying will lead to an even higher price in the future as the challenge of cutting emissions increases.
Mr Brearley said: “Britain has come a long way. It has decarbonised faster than any other major economy, but we must go further, particularly on heat and transport.
“We are taking an approach that recognises that our role protecting consumers includes achieving net zero.”
He promised to introduce price controls on the energy networks to clear the path and make the energy system more flexible. Mr Brearley called on the industry to “rise to the challenge”.
One such challenge is that wind farms only produce electricity when it is windy, while solar farms need sun.
Companies are therefore finding innovative new ways of regulating demand so that customers use energy when it is being produced.
Late last year, National Grid paid customers to use electricity during a few nights, mostly to charge their cars, while offshore wind farms were churning out large amounts of energy.
Nicola Shaw, the UK executive director of National Grid, said: “It’s critical that the regulator, government and industry are aligned to decarbonise the energy sector in the journey to net zero at the lowest cost to consumers, and we both welcome and share Ofgem’s commitment to achieving this.”
Ofgem hopes to publish a strategy for electric vehicles which sets out how the grid can meet the increased demand that the cars will bring.