The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) released a report yesterday stating that the UK government should agree support for only one more nuclear power station before 2025. Instead, the government should prioritise energy efficiency and increase investment in renewable energy to achieve its aims of a decarbonised economy.
In its first assessment of the UK’s infrastructure the NIC has said that a switch to clean, green energy can be accomplished without increasing bills for consumers – if the government act now. The commission, which was launched by George Osborne in 2015, stated this was a “golden opportunity” for the UK.
The chair of the commission, Sir John Arnett, said that “ministers can seize this chance by investing in renewables and other low-carbon technologies, so they become the main players in our energy system – something that was considered a pipedream as little as a decade ago. But they need to act now to realise the full potential of what can be achieved”.
The report suggested that renewable sources, such as wind and solar, could deliver the same generating capacity as nuclear at comparable costs. However, because of the long life of nuclear assets this would therefore make them more expensive in the long run. Instead the commission recommends the government set out Contracts for Difference auctions and should make it their aim to deliver at least 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030.
The NIC also called on the gas networks to establish hydrogen community trials to replace the UK’s natural gas usage. These trials should be in place within the next three years, and subject to their success, be aiming for a larger trial to take place supplying hydrogen to 10,000 homes by 2023.
However, the report stated that the biggest change in UK infrastructure would be seen on the road network – with transport becoming “unrecognisable” due to electric and autonomous vehicles. It advises the government to aim for 100 percent electric sales by 2030, instead of its current ambition of 2040.
To achieve this, the commission states they cannot do it alone and will need the support of “Government, regulators, industry, citizen and others” to make these plans and recommendations a reality.
The full report can be read here.