Sally Barrett-Williams

Energy law barrister working under the Direct Access scheme

Sally Barrett Williams set up Lansdown Chambers following senior posts in the UK energy industry and sector regulators, such as National Power PLC, OFGEM and The Rail Regulator, and in private practice with European and US based entities CMS and Troutman Sanders LLP.

 

Sally’s track record includes leading roles for project financed and balance sheet financed international power projects in China and Turkey, and regulation framework design in Mozambique.

 

She is also a project developer, taking stakes in projects and joining the development team. At present she is involved in a number of small generation and battery projects and also in development of new-generation electric car charging schemes.

 

She was, until recently, a partner in The Carbon Catalysts Group, a project development group for renewable power projects and is Chairman of the Energy & Utility Forum, an energy policy body partnering senior executives and politicians with a focus on renewables development and its policy impacts.

Energy matters

The future change that happened yesterday and what (some of) it means

The 2003 White Paper heralded a revolution for energy. In place of gas and coal there were to be renewable generators.

 

It is now clear that what government meant by ‘renewable power’ was big renewable power. A bit of that happened with off-shore wind farms, but almost all renewable generators built since that time have been small, have been connected to the distribution network - and they have changed the shape of the energy market.

 

A second revolution is well under way, before the dust has settled from the first one. Batteries are being installed as (small and large) stand-alone generation units; they are being combined with solar power to turn its intermittent power into firm power, so scotching the need for new market indices for the different kinds of power; and they are being used by the network companies to avoid costly system upgrades (with, it is projected, a saving of up to £8 billion per annum).

 

But these revolutions will be dwarfed over the next short few years by the changes that will happen as electric vehicles (EVs) become standard. The network companies are now worried about future rising demand for electricity caused by EVs. They forget that converting crude oil to petrol consumes huge amounts of electricity. They forget, too, that most cars are idle most of the time. Most EVs will at any time be fully charged and can function as batteries capable of selling their power to the network or to users needing it. It requires regulation and rules and arrangements – and some IT: but these things will follow as EVs make their mark.

 

The future of the car industry is known: all cars will be EV, although some believe there will be hydrogen-fuelled cars as well. The future of the oil industry – now referred to as ‘the death of big oil’ – is also known, as the title suggests. There is a view that volumes of cars will fall as EV self-driving becomes predictably safe.

 

The big debate is not about any of this, it’s about when. Some say it has started and will accelerate fast, just like mobile phones and digital cameras. Others are more cautious and look forward to 2030 or even later.

 

The release of an affordable EV (the Tesla) convinces me that the fundamental change needed to kick-start an accelerated revolution has already started.

Working with Sally

The practice offers legal services for energy and new technology, regulation and a wide range of commercial contracts.

 

Clients include governments, large corporations, housing associations and very small enterprises, such as new energy sector market entrants.

 

Sally works in several ways:

 

  • ‘one-off’ advice to law firms and companies, in regulatory or energy matters;
  • arm’s length lawyer to an energy project, perhaps as a complement to a law firm dealing with other aspects of the project (often substantially sized one or multiple projects);
  • more closely with project developers, both in the UK and overseas, either at arms’ length or as part of a team whose rewards come when the project is sold or operational. 
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E: sally.barrett-williams@energylawuk.com