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Investigating the UK's long-term electricity supply – Lords inquiry gets underway


The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee is investigating the resilience of the UK's electricity system, and asking how science and technology can help with future needs.

Over the next two winters the buffer between electricity supply and demand will be squeezed due to the closure of old power stations. In the longer term increased reliance on renewable energy will have implications for maintaining a steady supply of electricity.

At next week's launch evidence session, on Tuesday 21 October, witnesses will face questions about whether the Government's policies will ensure that supply continues to meet demand over the next two winters and in the longer term.

The first witnesses of the inquiry include academics and senior Government officials.

Dr Simon Harrison, Chair of the Energy Policy Panel, at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Professor John Loughhead, representing the Royal Academy of Engineering, will give evidence in the first session at 10.40am.

At 11.40am the committee will then hear from Sarah Rhodes, Head of Energy Resilience, at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC); Craig Lucas, Director, Science & Innovation, DECC; Andy Shields, Head of Security of Electricity Supply, DECC; and Paul Hawker, Future Electricity Markets, DECC.

Questions they will face include:

  •  How resilient is the UK electricity system at the moment?
  • Will it be able to cope with the closure of old power stations?
  • A key feature of forward planning is the ‘capacity margin' – the safe level of surplus electricity supply over demand. How is this being guaranteed in the short term?
  • How is it being guaranteed in the medium to long-term?
  • What are the implications of decarbonisation in terms of maintaining a steady supply?
  • We've been told of a need for a ‘systems architect' to oversee the electricity system – what form would it take?

The Committee evidence sessions will take place at 10.40am in Committee Room 4A in the House of Lords, on Tuesday 21 October.

The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament's Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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