Infrastructure Commission calls for raft of changes to UK energy policy

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has called for a raft of regulatory changes to create a level playing field that would allow energy storage and demand flexibility to ensure security in the UK's future low-carbon energy system.

It has also called for a greater reliance on interconnectors and said the Government should “redouble its efforts to open new connections” with countries like Norway and Iceland to access cheap green power supplies.

The Commission said the UK is “uniquely placed” to benefit from the three innovations which could help “fire a smart power revolution” in its ‘Smart Power’ report, published today (4 March).

The NIC said that a future UK energy system principally built on these three technologies could save consumers up to £8bn a year by 2030 while helping the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets and achieving security of supply.

It has recommended the UK to become a “world-leader” in electricity storage which it says would require a review of regulatory and legal status of storage, as well as calling on Ofgem to encourage distribution network operators to use storage.

The NIC’s findings back calls already made by the UK electricity storage industry for the Government to remove regulatory barriers which the industry says is holding the technology back from further development in the UK market. The Commission said barriers should be removed by spring 2017 and implemented “as soon as possible”.

It has also called for improved regulation on demand flexibility and said consumers should be more informed of its benefits and the Government should pilot new business models on its own estate.

World leader

The NIC was asked to analyse and make recommendations about how the UK should transition towards a secure low-carbon energy system by the chancellor George Osborne when he set up the commission last year.

The Commission’s interim chair Lord Adonis said: “The UK can lead the world in harnessing these innovations, bringing jobs and investment into the country and cutting bills for consumers. We do not call for new subsidies or significant public spending, but rather a level playing field through fairer regulation and a better managed network to allow these exciting new technologies to compete.

“If we get this right a smart power revolution could save consumers £8bn a year.”

Commenting on the NIC’s Smart Power report, the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) senior policy analyst Frank Gordon said: “The findings of this report are very welcome. Energy storage is ready to deliver a huge range of benefits to the UK as the findings make clear. What’s really exciting is that no one is calling for a new subsidy for energy storage, only common sense changes to existing policies.”

Lucinda Dann

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title, Utility Week

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