What are the UK's energy priorities?

In a public submission made to the new Commons’ Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, ICE has called for investigation of the Government’s progress on a range of energy policies.

Energy saving lightbubs. The UK faces several challenges to keep the lights on while meeting its targets for renewable energy.
Energy saving lightbubs. The UK faces several challenges to keep the lights on while meeting its targets for renewable energy.
  • Updated: 17 August, 2015
  • Author: Gavin Miller, ICE Policy Manager

Particular areas of concern are the development of electricity storage policy, reviewing the nuclear energy market and assessing recent changes to renewables support programmes.

In its first call for evidence the newly convened committee asked the public and industry to advise on the key areas of scrutiny over this Parliament. Chaired by SNP’s Angus MacNeil, the committee has the remit to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and its associated public bodies.

Drawing on submissions made, the committee will pull together an agenda for inquiry over the coming five-year Parliament. They will use this as a basis to scrutinise the decisions of ministers and top officials within DECC, and provide oversight of energy and climate policy in the UK.

Start with storage

Described by Government as ‘alchemy for energy policy’ and ‘a fantastic opportunity’, the prospects for electricity storage has grown dramatically in the past few years. Storage has the potential to help the UK meet its renewable and emissions targets and ease tightening electricity capacity margins. However, while being on the verge of being technologically and economically do-able, it appears to be held back by policy and regulatory barriers and is therefore an ideal topic for the committee to investigate.

ICE has also asked the committee to review the development of new nuclear power. Nuclear is clearly seen by Government as an important part of the UK’s future low-carbon energy systems. With such emphasis placed on the technology the recent technical, legal and commercial setbacks at Hinkley Point C are concerning.

The third area highlighted by ICE for the committee to examine is the recently proposed changes to renewables support programmes. As highlighted in a previous blog, announced changes to the existing Renewables Obligation support for onshore wind could affect investor confidence and make the country’s renewable energy targets harder to achieve. The Government maintains that it is on track to meet the UKs 2020 renewable energy targets but with the different numbers used and assumptions made, it is difficult to pin down exactly what outcomes are expected.

Read our full public submission to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.