The UK’s Energy Supply: security or independence?

11 February 2011

The Energy and Climate Change Committee is today launching an inquiry to explore the nature and extent of UK energy security, where energy includes the generation of heat and electricity, as well as transport.

The UK has ambitions of changing its energy mix to one which includes more renewables and more low-carbon energy. In order to meet an EU target of 15% renewable energy by 2020, it is estimated that between 30–40% of electricity would need to come from renewables—in 2009 renewables accounted for 6.7% of electricity generation, up from 2.5% in 2000. The EU 15% target would still leave 85% of energy to come from non-renewables, including gas, coal, oil and nuclear power. Each of the fuels for these forms of energy has a different provenance and geopolitical implication, both of which will experience change in the coming decades. Beyond 2020, the Committee on Climate Change recommended that electricity generation should be largely decarbonised by 2030 if the UK is to meet its commitments under the Climate Change Act 2008 of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Terms of Reference

The Committee will examine how the security of the UK’s energy supply relates to the UK’s energy independence, and the sensitivity of the UK’s security of supply to changes in various factors.  The Committee invites responses addressing each of the following questions:

  1. How resilient is the UK energy system to future changes in fossil fuel and uranium prices?
  2. How sensitive is the UK’s energy security to investment (or lack of investment) in energy infrastructure, including transmission, distribution and storage?
  3. What impact could increased levels of electrification of the transport and heat sectors have on energy security?
  4. To what extent does the UK’s future energy security rely on the success of energy efficiency schemes?
  5. What will be the impact on energy security of trying to meet the UK’s targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions as well as increased penetration of renewables in the energy sector?
  6. What would be the implications for energy security of a second dash-for-gas?
  7. How exposed is the UK’s energy security of supply to international events?
  8. Is the UK’s energy security policy sufficiently robust to be able to deal with uncertainties and risks inherent in all of the above areas?  If not, how could this be improved?
  9. Are there any other issues relating to the security of the UK’s energy supply that you think the Committee should be aware of?

Written evidence is invited from interested parties. The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Thursday 31 March 2011.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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