United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Leader of UK electricity market reform resigns

Civil servant to depart before energy bill is finalised

The UK government’s civil servant charged with leading its electricity market reform (EMR) programme is soon to depart, long before crucial new energy legislation enters into force. The departure of Jonathan Brearley in July is expected to increase concern in the energy sector, about the future of the UK’s draft energy bill.

Brearley is director of energy strategy and futures at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and is responsible for delivering EMR. His departure raises fears about whether the UK government will succeed – and at what speed - in replacing the existing renewables support system, with a contracts for difference (CfDs)-based scheme.

It is unclear whether Brearley will depart before DECC publishes draft strike prices for different types of electricity generation, including offshore wind. A strike price is eagerly awaited by developers and investors, as it will indicate the likely future level of support that projects will receive. Earlier this year, DECC promised draft strike prices in July, with final prices due to be set by year-end.

The energy bill has been making slow progress through the House of Commons. To many observers’ frustration, a date has yet to be confirmed for the bill’s "report stage". This important legislative step could prove contentious, if it is used by politicians supportive of renewables generation to propose a target for UK electricity decarbonisation by 2030.

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