Ofgem green lights regional energy planning roles to speed up net zero transition

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Ofgem has today announced it will create regional energy planning roles across Great Britain to improve local energy planning and speed up the transition to net zero.

The Regional Energy Strategic Planners (RESPs) will work with organisations at a local level including local government and gas and electricity networks, to improve understanding of the infrastructure needed in different parts of the country and attract investment for projects.

The new approach to energy planning will see RESPs create clear plans for how local energy systems need to be developed to reach net zero, considering both the national targets set by government, and the local needs and most appropriate approach in each area.

The Future Systems Operator (FSO), the new body that will bring together the planning for the electricity and gas systems, will be responsible for implementing up to 13 RESPs across Great Britain.

As part of a package of measures on how local energy systems are planned and operated, Ofgem will also introduce a new market facilitator function that will delivering joined up flexibility markets. The market facilitator will be responsible for market coordination, implementation, monitoring, and strategic leadership. Ofgem will soon be publishing a consultation looking at which entity should deliver this new function.

The new reforms are part of Ofgem’s wider agenda, together with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), to create a more decentralised, decarbonised energy system, which promotes more flexible and efficient energy use.

The decisions follow the regulator’s review into the effectiveness of institutional and governance arrangements at a regional level to support delivery of net zero at least cost, and the case for alternative approaches. Ofgem also consulted on the proposals earlier this year.

Later this month, Ofgem’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Brearley, will meet with metro mayors from across England in a roundtable discussion to share best practice in the regions, and to consult mayors on how Ofgem can enhance the impact of its work at the local and regional level. By working with local and regional leaders Ofgem aims to ensure local views, expertise and priorities are at the forefront of planning decisions. Discussions will also help to shape the future of the RESP roles.

Mr Brearley said: 

“The creation of the Future System Operator (FSO) gives us a once in generation opportunity to design the energy system we need to get us to net zero.  We’re already working on future energy network planning on a national level and creating Regional Energy Strategic Planners (RESPs) means this can also now happen at a regional level. Ofgem looks forward to working with the System Operator and local leaders to create a joined-up roadmap leading to clean, flexible, and aligned future energy systems across Great Britain.”