‘Pool Party at Rishi’s’ sparks law promising upgrades to grid for renewable energy

The government has taken the first step to fixing the mess our electricity grid is in, which should help unlock more renewable energy


Back in March, Greenpeace activists paid prime minister Rishi Sunak a visit to host a pool party at his £2 million Grade-II listed North Yorkshire mansion.

Activists wearing trunks, flip-flops, Hawaiian shirts and snorkels queued up outside the prime minister’s property.

Sunak personally paid to upgrade the grid in the area so he could heat his £400,000 pool. Meanwhile, most of the UK’s grid is so outdated, it can’t connect renewables at the volume and speed needed.. This is critical to meet our net zero targets and misses a huge opportunity to provide cheaper electricity for everyone. 

The activists arrived to call out the hypocrisy of Sunak’s private upgrade to his local grid, while the wider system is being neglected.

Thanks to the protest, the government has taken a first step to fixing this mess.

New law is first step to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy

The government is now passing a new law to make the UK’s energy regulator put net zero at the heart of its decision making. This should mean they’ll start taking urgently needed steps to upgrade our grid and unleash the full potential of renewable energy. 

Right now, hundreds of renewable projects that could be powering millions of homes are on hold because they can’t plug into the grid. Solar and wind power projects are waiting up to 10 to 15 years to be connected because of a lack of capacity in the grid.

On the sunniest and windiest days, even existing projects are generating electricity that the outdated grid can’t handle. Taxpayers are having to pay hundreds of millions to turn them off. 

Without reliable renewable energy transmission via the grid, bills will remain high, and the UK will be unable to reach its net zero goals.

This new law should change that, forcing the energy regulator Ofgem to prioritise net zero, and by upgrade the grid to handle more renewable energy.

The new law is a welcome first step to a powerful renewable energy future for the UK, but this is only just the beginning. The government needs to make sure more storage, and more transmissions and interconnections, actually get built. 

And there is still loads more to do to get the grid up to scratch. For example, using technology to make the grid “smart” will help balance demand, and move excess electricity from solar panels and electric vehicles to where it’s needed. 

How the pool party – and people power – pushed for the change

One colourful protest on a grey day in March highlighted the problems with the grid. It also exposed the hypocrisy of the prime minister’s private grid upgrade for his heated pool.

Many groups across the UK helped get the issue into the media and on to the political agenda. 

But the video of our Pool Party at Rishi’s has been watched millions of times online and it made national news. And that’s the kind of mainstream attention that can jolt politicians into action.

Thank you to everyone that watched and shared the video – without you, this small but important victory wouldn’t have been possible.

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