Former CCC boss Chris Stark to lead UK’s 2030 clean power strategy

Image: CCC

The Labour Party, which won last week’s general election by a landslide, has committed to delivering a decarbonised power system by 2030. This will entail bringing all coal-fired generation offline, plus reducing gas-fired generation and retrofitting remaining gas plants with carbon capture.

Maintaining energy security will require unprecedented investment in renewable energy and grid infrastructure. Labour will also support new nuclear capacity.

Energy Security and Net-Zero Secretary Ed Miliband has today (9 July) announced a new ‘Mission Control’ unit – a team of policy and industry experts overseeing the development and delivery of a plan to transition the power system this decade.

National Grid’s Electricity System Operator has been asked to draw up independent advice on the pathway. Mission Control will be tasked with translating this into policy. It will also provide troubleshooting services for “to remove obstacles and identify and resolve issues as they arise”.

A key obstacle at present is long grid connection waiting times. Some renewable projects face waits of a decade or more due to grid bottlenecks caused by issues like outdated infrastructure and queues being blocked by ‘phantom’ projects.

Chris Stark, who was chief executive at the UK Government’s independent climate advisory body the CCC between April 2018 and April 2024, is the head of Mission Control.

Stark has also served as director of energy and climate change within the Scottish Government and is, at present, chief executive at The Carbon Trust.

Stark will be responsible for setting and tracking progress towards the Government’s overarching 2030 energy transformation strategy. He will also monitor, in real time, progress on critical infrastructure projects.

Mission Control will further act as a centralised energy innovation hub. Further members of the team will be announced shortly.

Stark said: “Tackling the climate crisis and accelerating the transition to clean power is the country’s biggest challenge, and its greatest opportunity.

“By taking action now, we can put the UK at the forefront of the global race to net-zero – driving down our carbon emissions but also cutting bills for households.

“It is a privilege to head up this work alongside the country’s top energy experts who will make this mission a reality.”

Planning changes

The announcement comes after Miliband’s department confirmed that planning rules for onshore wind projects will be relaxed. Labour is notably aiming to treble Britain’s onshore wind capacity by 2030.

New Chancellor Rachel Reeves has also moved quickly on renewables. Today, she launched the National Wealth Fund – the mechanism through which the Treasury will funnel money into projects that decarbonise industry.

The Fund will be immediately supported by £7.3bn from the UK Infrastructure Bank and could, in future, be replenished using windfall taxes on North Sea oil and gas.

It will be chaired by the Green Finance Institute and a supporting taskforce of experts with experience in multilateral development banks, high-street banks and institutional investment.

An outstanding Labour commitment on the energy transition is the creation of Great British Energy – a publicly-owned entity that will co-invest in renewable and nuclear projects that could not otherwise unlock necessary private finance.

GB Energy will be based in Scotland and serve the whole of the UK. It does not yet have a budget and details on which projects it will strategically support are outstanding.

Comments (1)

  1. Yvan Biot says:

    Great appointment! Congratulations to Prof Stark. One key question will be how to make this happen – via large-scale infrastructure by the large corporates to ‘effect economies of scale’ and ‘create jobs’ and ‘generate growth’ (ie: get the macro-economics right and adhere to the Treasury’s Green Book rules) or the construction of a mosaic of local energy and heat markets ? There’s a chance to be really innovative here and empower citizens and small businesses to engage in this directly (ie:let the economy emerge out of citizens’ actions) rather than to devolve, once again, to the big guys to do it all for us, build big and ugly in our backyards and treating us citizens as mere onlookers and consumers. This might need some bold policy choices, though …

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