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Forthcoming infrastructure strategy must deliver on renewables and EVs, says NIC chair

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Sir John Armitt, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), has urged the government to embrace renewables in its forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS).

Speaking in the wake of this week’s Budget, which the green economy derided for a lack of meaningful climate action, Armitt said that chancellor Philip Hammond’s announced NIS and next year’s Spending Review would have to implement a raft of measures outlined in the country’s first National Infrastructure Assessment.

That assessment, published this summer, included amongst its core proposals that half of the UK’s power is provided by renewables by 2030 and preparations for all of the country’s vehicles sales to be electric within the same timeframe.

And Armitt has followed up by stressing that the government’s next steps on infrastructure must include action to “make the most of improvements in renewable energy technologies” and create a “truly national, visible” EV charging network.

“Today’s Budget includes a number of welcome measures for infrastructure – but the real test will be next year’s Spending Review and, crucially, the National Infrastructure Strategy that the chancellor has promised.

“This strategy should bring together the roads funding from this Budget with longer-term funding for cities and projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Crossrail 2. And it should include access to full fibre broadband and greater use of renewable sources for our energy,” he said.

The government’s approach to renewable generation, especially technologies considered as established, has been the subject of much contention in the power sector of late.

Subsidy programmes like the Renewables Obligation have been shuttered for more than 18 months and, having effectively been excluded from all but the first round of Contracts for Difference auctions, do not currently have an effective route to market.

While the government has indeed consulted on bringing renewable generation into forthcoming Capacity Market auctions, there remains radio silence on the prospect of further auctions for established renewables or so-called subsidy-free or market-stabilising CfDs, long thought to be a potential option to stimulate deployment.

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