the technology Moving humanity into a sustainable future is here, but draconian regulators and outdated infrastructure are holding back progress, Octopus Energy CEO Greg Jackson said. The key to solving this problem, he suggests, is to take lessons from the history books.
At WIRED Impact earlier this November, Jackson asked viewers to imagine a scenario in which early innovators of the Internet age — figures like World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee — Not given the freedom to experiment. The consequences for the pace of development would be severe, he said, but “that’s the reality of renewable energy today.”
To illustrate the magnitude of the problem, Jackson pointed to the obstacles facing sustainable energy projects in the UK.While it takes only two to six months to build a wind facility, connecting a new farm to the grid can take seven year, due to the massive amount of red tape – a situation Jackson described as “catastrophic”. “We’re talking about a revolution that could be bigger than the internet, a revolution that will save our planet,” he said. “But it’s held back by a lot of central planning.”
Part of the problem, Jackson claims, is that regulators don’t understand the extent of change needed to meet climate goals (the UK has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050). This means that those at the forefront of renewable energy development are not given the freedom to explore all available options.
It was clear that the UK grid was “basically fit for purpose – neither in terms of infrastructure nor governance,” he said. “We need to get all the technologies that are going to transform energy into the market.”