New technologies could offer cheapest route to a net zero electricity system

Published: 6 Mar 2020

By: NIC

Tagged:

Analysis published today by the National Infrastructure Commission suggests that increased investment in new technologies such as low carbon hydrogen generation could be the best way to deliver low cost power to UK consumers while also helping reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Detailed modelling using the latest available industry data suggests that consumers could see electricity bills up to 30 per cent lower than under alternative energy mixes if hydrogen power generation proves as effective as the projections suggest.

Net Zero: Opportunities for the power sector separately notes cost reductions in bringing renewable technologies on stream over the past ten years, while costs of building and running nuclear power stations have not fallen consistently, even in countries that have built fleets of similar designed reactors.

When considered alongside the potential for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage to run baseload – providing a constant, reliable flow of power – this weakens the case for committing to a new fleet of nuclear power stations now, the report concludes.

The findings support the Commission’s previous recommendations to government that the UK should develop a flexible, 21st century energy system. The Commission suggests that the level of uncertainty in long term modelling and the rapid pace of technological change means it is unwise to shut down options before it is necessary.

“Making decisions now, such as committing to a fleet of nuclear power plants, rules out a more diverse future generation mix and the potential this has to reduce costs to consumers,” the Commission’s report notes. “Policy decisions that lock the UK consumer into paying for large scale programmes with long construction times risk missing opportunities that may emerge,” it continues.

The Commission’s landmark National Infrastructure Assessment, published in 2018, suggested that the gap in UK electricity generating capacity in the 2020s will need to be filled by low carbon solutions and that renewables are best placed to achieve this, not least because of the relatively short lead times needed to bring such power into the grid.

The new report comes as the government prepares to deliver a white paper on energy and a long-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy.

Share this article

<

Recent Articles

Commission welcomes UK Infrastructure Bank appointment
Image showing business professionals signing a contract

Commission welcomes UK Infrastructure Bank appointment

The National Infrastructure Commission has welcomed the appointment of Chris Grigg CBE as Chair of the UK Infrastructure Bank, announced today by HM Treasury. Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “I am pleased to congratulate Chris Grigg on his appointment as Chair of the UK Infrastructure Bank. “This is a key milestone...

30 Apr 2021 By
Timeline for second National Infrastructure Assessment announced
National Infrastructure Assessment
3D drone satellite view of South Hampton commercial dock UK

Timeline for second National Infrastructure Assessment announced

The UK’s second National Infrastructure Assessment will be published in the second half of 2023 and consultation and analysis to inform its recommendations will commence this autumn, the National Infrastructure Commission has confirmed. The Commission’s Corporate Plan for the next three years, published today, sets out the process it will follow to develop a comprehensive...

30 Apr 2021 By
Commission backs new vision for relationship between the natural and built environments
Natural capital and environmental net gain

Commission backs new vision for relationship between the natural and built environments

The National Infrastructure Commission has today endorsed a bold new vision for protecting and enhancing the UK’s built environment. The Commission is one of more than 35 bodies which have put their names to Vision for the Built Environment, including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, and the...

22 Apr 2021 By

Evidence_Icon_Turquoise Created with Sketch.

Explore data used in the Commission's research, and gain insights from across UK infrastructure

Join our team of professionals supporting the Commission to provide evidence based and forward thinking advice on infrastructure strategy.