Eco Innovation

Academy initiates project for GB electricity decarbonisation

7th February 2024
Sheryl Miles

The Royal Academy of Engineering has announced a major new policy project on delivery of rapid electricity system decarbonisation, to help the UK government realise decarbonisation plans by the next decade.

Funded by a grant from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and supported by the National Engineering Policy Centre, the project aims to provide insight and potential solutions to the challenges of delivering rapid electricity system decarbonisation by the next decade.

The project is targeted at policymakers and the wider energy industry and will focus on what a credible engineering-led delivery plan to decarbonise the grid would require in practice. This will entail identifying the changes required to current processes, across a range of areas including the planning process, procurement, and ensuring sufficient engineering skills, as well as the structure required within Government to drive the rapid changes. 

An independent working group will be co-chaired by two Fellows of the Academy – former Government Chief Scientist Sir Patrick Vallance HonFREng FRS FMedSci and Dr Simon Harrison FREng, Group Head of Strategy at Mott MacDonald. The project director is Dr David Joffe, formerly Head of Net Zero at the Climate Change Committee.

The intention is for the project findings to be relevant to policymakers, at a time when both the main political parties have challenging ambitions for the decarbonisation of the grid. It is hoped that the working group will report by the autumn, with interim findings by the summer.

The project will build on the findings of a recent series of roundtables organised by the National Engineering Policy Centre’s working group on decarbonising the electricity grid.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald GBE FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “Rapid decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity system must be a priority for any government after the next general election. The motivation for this project is to ensure that the government has a credible engineering-led plan to drive delivery of a decarbonised electricity system as soon as is feasible. I am delighted that Sir Patrick Vallance and Dr Simon Harrison have agreed to co-chair this vital project for the Academy and I look forward to seeing their conclusions and recommendations over the course of the year.”


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