Ofgem, the energy regulator, has approved 17 net zero projects worth around £12 million across Wales. These shovel-ready, low carbon projects start this year, supporting clean transport and heat, and opening up local electricity grids to take on more low carbon generation. This is part of £300.5 million investment approved by Ofgem for net zero projects across Britain.
Three key motorway service areas on the M4 and key trunk road locations across Wales will get the cabling they need to install over 500 new public charge points, including 71 new ultra-rapid charge points. Currently just 0.17% of vehicles used in Wales are electric.
Today’s investment will support new charging across the M4, with the potential for local renewable generation. It will also usher in the infrastructure needed to support charging points across key transit hubs, including railway stations, in North and Mid Wales.
Ofgem research shows that 36% of British households that do not intend to get an electric vehicle are put off making the switch over a lack of charging points near their home. An extensive motorway charging network and more charging points in cities and train stations will help allay these fears. Stronger infrastructure will open up the possibility of more small renewable generators, for instance where farms neighbouring motorway service areas want to install solar or wind.
Across Wales today’s announcement will mean that towns and cities like Talbot Green, Cardiff, and Llandudno will benefit from increased network capacity to support more ultra-rapid charge points, increased renewable electricity generation and the move to more electric heating for homes and businesses.
This phase of Ofgem’s Green Recovery programme is focused on the local electricity grids within the current price control. Ofgem is working with the transmission and gas distribution companies to develop further opportunities within their recently confirmed funding settlements.
Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem said:
“The rapid take up of electric vehicles is vital if Wales is to hit its climate change targets. Drivers need to be confident that they can charge their car quickly when they need to. We’re paving the way for the installation of charge points that will benefit drivers at motorway service areas on the M4 and 17 other strategic trunk road locations, as well as commuters using eight railway stations in North and Mid Wales.
“In the year that Glasgow hosts the COP26 climate summit, the energy networks are rising to the challenge, working with us and partners to accelerate projects that can start now, benefiting consumers, boosting the economy and creating jobs.”
Welsh Government’s Climate Change Minister, Julie James said:
“Building resilient energy infrastructure is key to achieving our target of net zero emissions by 2050. This is a welcome investment, and I look forward to working with Ofgem as we develop the grid we need for a fairer, low carbon future”.
David Smith, chief executive at ENA which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses said:
“With just a few months left until COP26 we are delighted to have been able to bring forward such a crucial enabler of the Prime Minister’s green recovery ambitions. Delivering a green recovery for seas, skies and streets, over £300m of electricity distribution network investment will enable wide-ranging projects which help tackle some of our biggest Net Zero challenges, like electric vehicle range anxiety and the decarbonisation of heavier transport.
“This new funding shows the social, economic and environmental benefits that can be brought forward by industry working closely with a flexible regulator.”
Keith Bell, member of the Climate Change Committee said:
“This joint initiative by Ofgem and the electricity distribution network companies is a welcome development, showing flexibility in the regulatory arrangements in the long-term interests of energy users. On the journey to Net Zero, we need to make it as easy as possible for people to manage without their combustion engine cars. Electric vehicles are looking more and more attractive, but we need to make sure they can be charged easily, and that means having the right infrastructure – charge points and network capacity – in the right place at the right time.
“As well as enabling charging of electric vehicles and the electrification of heat, network investment will provide support for supply chains and, where projects require expansion of the workforce, the creation of new jobs. It will be an essential complement to a smarter power system where innovative information technology and attractive energy tariffs for consumers will ensure we make best use of our electricity system infrastructure.”
Ofgem, the Energy Networks Association and each of the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) launched a call for evidence in February for energy networks to come forward with projects that could help Britain reach net zero emissions faster and support the economy as the country comes out of the pandemic.
Last year, Ofgem announced its greenest ever price control with billions invested into network companies and the system operator from April this year. The regulator has also indicated that it will allow billions more investment and better use of flexible technologies and innovations for the local electricity networks from 2023.