Technology that will take people to a sustainable future, says Greg Jackson, CEO of Octopus Energy, but burdensome regulators and outdated infrastructure are holding back progress. He says, the key to solving this problem is to learn from history books.
At WIRED Impact in early November, Jackson asked the audience to consider how early Internet pioneers — people like Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web — weren’t given the freedom to experiment. Developmental contributions would have been difficult, he says, but “this is the reality of renewable energy today.”
In an attempt to show the scale of the problem, Mr Jackson cited the obstacles facing the UK’s electricity grid. While building a power plant only takes two to six months, connecting a new farm to the grid can take longer Seven age, because of the amount of red tape — a process Jackson describes as “horrendous.” “We are talking about a revolution that is more important than the Internet, that can save our country,” he says. “But it’s being offset by the amount of central planning.”
The problem is that regulators don’t understand how much change is needed to meet climate targets, says Mr Jackson (the UK has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050). This means that those who are at the forefront of the development of renewable energy have not been given the freedom to explore all that is available.
It is clear that the UK’s electricity sector is “not fit for purpose – neither infrastructure nor governance”, he says. “We need to give market access to all the technologies that have revolutionized energy.”