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Economy Economy

Upgrade our energy infrastructure in an affordable way

Last updated: 10:13am 19 September 2019

Our ambition is that the UK should have the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for households and businesses. So as we upgrade our energy infrastructure, we will do it in an affordable way, consistent with that ambition.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.22

Our verdict

Governments today are faced with at least a two-pronged challenge in terms of energy:

  • households and businesses want energy to be provided affordably
  • man-made climate change requires that energy is produced and delivered in ways that do not worsen the problem

This manifesto pledge emphasises the first of these challenges, but any energy policy necessarily has to acknowledge them both.

“Energy infrastructure” refers to the systems involved in generating, transmitting, and distributing energy. Traditionally, this included things like oil and gas pipelines, railways and roads, power plants and electricity transmission lines. More recently, that infrastructure incorporates renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar.

A clear indication that this policy remains an ambition of the government is the Draft Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), published in January 2019. This 140-page document outlines a raft of strategies aimed at upgrading infrastructure:

  • improved electricity interconnectivity
  • renewable innovation
  • smart systems innovation
  • nuclear innovation
  • industrial innovation
  • built environment innovation
  • green finance

The government describes funding for these and many other initiatives in the NECP, and throughout there is an emphasis on affordability.

Implementation of much of the NECP is on hold until the outcome of the Brexit process is known: funding and regulatory arrangements require clarity around the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.

There has also been government activity apart from the NECP. For example:

Overall, we think there’s evidence that this is ‘in progress’. However, as long as the Brexit outcome is unknown, movement towards completing this policy is likely to be slow. Follow this policy to see how things develop.

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