The Renewable Energy Sector: Overcoming Obstacles and Looking Ahead

The UK general election is fast approaching, which is an appropriate juncture to reflect on the delivery of renewable energy projects in this country and assess some of the main challenges to bringing forward these crucial projects.

So where are we in achieving our renewables aims?

The UK’s binding target, under the current government, is to reach net zero emissions by 2050. A key foundation of this is the current intention is to deliver “up to” 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 70GW of solar by 2035. Specific figures vary but in summary currently there is a capacity of c.14GW of offshore wind (similar for onshore) and c.15GW of solar.

This piece explores some of the more ‘direct’ obstacles facing the sector, with a focus on solar and wind.

Meanwhile the industry, like many others, is exposed to recent ‘external’ factors including economic and geo-political issues. Increased interest rates, rising manufacturing and grid costs as well as the war in Ukraine have all had, or are having, an impact.

Despite these challenges, there is optimism in the industry of a smoother future ahead.

Grid connections

Most in the industry agree that a key blocker to delivering development is grid connections. Overcoming this is important in bridging the demonstrable gap outlined above between current output and targets, albeit that does not paint the whole picture.

There is in fact predicted to be a connections ‘queue’ of over 800MW by the end of 2024. Meanwhile our calculations suggest more than 30X grid offers have been accepted than are currently required (for a typical summer’s working day). This ‘gridlock’ raises questions over the viability of many proposed projects.

The urgent need to reform the framework, thereby improving connections dates, has been identified by the ESO, as evidenced by the well-documented proposed implementation of the Target Model Option Four (TMO4). This is scheduled to be implemented in January 2025.

New projects would enter the system at ‘Gate 1’ and receive an indicative connection date and connection point. To reach ‘Gate 2’, certain criteria must be satisfied – currently proposed to be having relevant land secured and ‘requirements’ on dates for planning. A queue position and connection date would be confirmed at that stage.

Crucially, this ‘first ready, first connected’ proposal would have implications for existing projects too. Where existing projects could show compliance with ‘Gate 2’, they could hold their current connection date or request an expedited date in view of the revised queue.

The engagement on the proposed reforms remains ongoing and in our view there are wrinkles to be addressed, including requirements for planning (offers are being sent out with a node substation, which does not work for developer’s applications when the substation location is unknown).

Nonetheless, fundamentally we would welcome the prospect of a framework which is more pragmatic and flexible, and also accelerates the delivery of viable projects.


Securing the necessary land by bringing landowners on-board with project proposals is not always straight-forward. For a landowner, the prospect of offering-up any of their land to a developer, albeit temporarily, may be something they treat with trepidation. Understandably there may be unknowns and uncertainty, at least initially.

Yet this can be counter-balanced with the excellent opportunity for the landowner to secure a long-term and diversified revenue stream, whilst simultaneously contributing towards the net zero drive.

We view landowners, and local communities, as vital stakeholders in our projects.  Our experience is that where landowners obtain the right input and professional advice, the unknowns and uncertainty are alleviated. The outcome is that renewable projects can then be advanced which unlocks significant benefits for landowners and key stakeholders, as well as the country in contributing towards achieving net zero targets.


As ever, the planning landscape continues to evolve as a complex patchwork of legislation, policy and guidance for developers to navigate.

Important recent developments include the coming into force of the National Policy Statements for Energy in January which, importantly, contains reference to a ‘critical national priority’ in providing nationally significant low carbon infrastructure. This was followed by a written ministerial statement in May which essentially re-states pre-existing policy tests relating to solar development. Meanwhile biodiversity net gain requirements now apply under the TCPA regime (which will soon be the case for NSIPs as well) – indeed, our approach to securing BNG effectively is underpinned by looking to build strategic partnerships.

Looking ahead, the recently published manifestos outline variations in approaches to net zero.  Taking some examples, the Conservatives recommit to the current target of 2050 whilst Labour talks of ‘accelerating’ to net zero. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats are pushing for a date of 2045, which contrasts with Reform which is looking to scrap net zero.

Notable manifesto commitments relating to renewables include a clear intention by Labour (and the Liberal Democrats) to facilitate onshore wind in England, and Labour’s aim to triple solar power and quadruple offshore wind by 2030 (as part of its ‘clean power’ by 2030 goal).

Meanwhile, a key consenting-related item on the new administration’s ‘to do’ list will be the backlog of major renewables projects for determination after they experienced notable delays in the NSIP consenting process. Those decisions, and the timelines for future decision-making generally, are certainly something to keep an eye on in the coming months as the new government settles in.

We are excited about reacting swiftly to the next government’s approach to renewables, not least from a planning perspective. We are already exploring onshore wind opportunities across the UK.

To conclude, renewable projects are inherently complicated and multifaceted undertakings. They require the alignment and coordination of various pillars for delivery to be achieved, whilst also necessitating quick responses to changing landscapes.

Through our simple but robust development framework, we are excellently placed to overcome the obstacles and contribute towards the net zero targets. We look forward to working with landowners and other key stakeholders in developing many more projects, regardless of the outcome of 4 July.

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