The government has launched an independent energy review to assess how the cost of electricity can be kept as low as possible, while also ensuring the UK meets its climate targets. The review is to be led by Professor Dieter Helm CBE, who said: “My review will be independent and sort out the facts from the myths about the cost of energy and make recommendations about how to more effectively achieve the overall objectives.” The Oxford professor is to be supported by an expert panel made up of green technology experts and representatives of the industrial sector. They will consider the key factors that are impacting energy bills, in the knowledge that the government’s ambition is for the UK to have the lowest energy costs in Europe. At present, the escalating cost of environmental support schemes and network charges are resulting in rising energy bills for consumers.
The energy review, which must also prioritise energy security, takes place against a backdrop of coal-fired plant closures and an ageing nuclear fleet. In addition, increased levels of renewables, which are intermittent by nature, present a challenge to balancing the network. A plan for a smarter energy system was published by the government last month, which focused on solutions such as battery storage to upgrade the energy system.
Recent renewables statistics published by BEIS show that 26.6% of generation was from renewables in Q1 2017. This is good progress against a UK target of 30% of by 2030 and meets both energy security and emission reduction requirements. Meanwhile, RenewableUK has warned that we should not be complacent about meeting our renewables target given the current policy uncertainty beyond 2020. The sector is awaiting the Clean Growth Plan, which is due to be published in the autumn.
The independent energy review will report at the end of October 2017. The CBI has welcomed the government’s approach, saying: “Competitive energy prices are an important part of a meaningful industrial strategy. The CBI looks forward to working with the review to ensure any recommendations support continued business investment and innovation in a secure, flexible and low-carbon energy supply, together with efforts to improve energy efficiency.”