Decarbonising power supply sector inquiry launched by Business Committee
23 May 2022 11:41 AM
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee recently (20 May) launched a new inquiry into the Government’s plans to decarbonise the UK’s power supply sector.
The inquiry will scrutinise proposals unveiled in the Government’s Energy Security Strategy earlier this year, and the heavy emphasis it placed on scaling up the supply of electrical energy from renewable and low-carbon sources.
Through a series of public evidence sessions, MPs will examine what infrastructure the UK currently has, what will be needed to meet the Government’s targets, and what actions need to be taken now with energy sources including nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, hydrogen, biomass and gas.
The cross-party Committee will also examine the relationship between these proposals and other policy objectives laid out by the Government in its 2020 Energy White Paper and the Net Zero Strategy.
On the long road to scaling up the country’s supply of low-carbon technologies, the inquiry will probe the adequacy of the UK’s grid infrastructure; work needed to upskill the labour market to build new energy projects; how the Government will incentivise investment in new infrastructure; how the BEIS Department can ensure projects are delivered on time and within budget, and how key milestones and indicators will be used to ensure its own targets will be met.
Chair of the BEIS Committee Darren Jones MP recently said:
“The Government has placed a big bet on new nuclear reactors being built before our current nuclear reactors have to be turned off, hoping that extra nuclear will help to reduce our need for gas power plants. The big question is who will pay for it and will it be done in time?
“Our inquiry will look at how this can be done and whether ministers have put together an energy mix that balances our security of supply, capacity to build and the need to reach net zero.”
Inquiry terms of reference
The Committee welcomes written submissions from interested parties in answer to the following questions:
- Is the proposed future electricity mix, as announced in the Energy Security Strategy, the most efficient and cost-effective way to deliver power sector decarbonisation by 2035? Are there any further policy details and/or legislation required by the end of this Parliament to achieve these goals?
- Beyond current Government ambitions, how else can energy demand be reduced and how much of an impact will this make on reaching power supply targets? What action is required to ensure consumers engage with and are protected during the power sector transformation?
- What are the key challenges faced by each generation technology (e.g., nuclear (traditional, small and advanced modular, and fusion), offshore and onshore wind, solar, hydrogen, tidal, biomass, and gas combined heat and power) regarding both their deployment and scaling up within the current policy framework? What can be done to overcome these challenges? What generation capacity is required and what role will each technology play?
- What are the challenges for the current grid infrastructure in delivering the proposed energy mix by 2035 and how can these be overcome in a cost-effective manner? What role does digitisation of the grid infrastructure play and developing a smart electricity network? Are current regulators enabling this transition and flexibility within the system? What role will storage play? Please consider this question from generation source to in the home.
- What key milestones and indicators are needed to scrutinise and measure progress in delivering the UK’s power sector targets? Should new reporting requirements be required and what role should Ofgem, or the proposed new energy systems regulator, play?
- Does the UK have the right skills, industrial and labour capacity, and materials required to effectively deliver on the proposed energy security strategy by 2035, and if not, how can the supply chain be scaled up?
- How should Government work with industry to ensure proposed projects are ready when needed and on-budget? Are there domestic or international examples of time- and cost-effective delivery of large-scale power generation schemes?
- Does the Government’s strategy incentivise investment that enables decarbonisation of the power sector by 2035? Do current financing mechanisms allow for the required investment? What are the risks for taxpayers and/or consumers? Are there national security and investment considerations we should understand?