Energy & Waste

Energy and waste infrastructure are central to delivering a low cost, zero carbon future.

Updated:

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Summary

Infrastructure delivers power and heat to homes and businesses and underpins how we dispose of and recycle waste.

It is a period of huge change for electricity generators, utility companies and those who manage the connections between them. Currently, 30 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from generating electricity supply and heat for buildings. The growth of renewable electricity sources and the need to upgrade our networks to enable decarbonisation are historic shifts which present both challenges and opportunities for the sectors involved.

The Commission advises government on how to best support and regulate those sectors to deliver the changes necessary for meeting the UK’s net zero goals.

With this in mind, we conduct a range of work exploring the role that low carbon energy infrastructure can play in delivering the net zero goal. This includes investigating how innovative technologies might help enable the phasing out of fossil fuels for UK power and heating without increasing costs for households over the long term, and ensure a stable electricity supply as our reliance on renewable generation grows.

Generating energy from waste plants (incinerators) helped the move away from landfill and makes sense when the alternative is power from fossil fuels. But the UK could save £6.2 billion by 2050 and avoid the need to build 20 new incinerators by achieving higher recycling rates.

We therefore seek to inform decision making to create a more circular economy, supporting significantly higher recycling rates for municipal and industrial waste and ensuring that the processes used for disposing of remaining waste help meet wider environmental policy goals.

Protecting the environment and addressing the impacts created by climate change, and ensuring the UK reaches its net zero targets are two of the three strategic themes which will shape the Commission’s work in the second National Infrastructure Assessment.

As set out in its Baseline Report, the Commission will look at four key challenges in energy and waste linked to these themes: the further decarbonisation of the electricity system; creating a viable path for heat decarbonisation; funding and delivering the new networks needed for hydrogen and carbon capture and storage; and examining what the waste sector should do to enable the move towards a more circular economy.

Energy & waste data

A range of energy & waste data sets is available to review on our Data pages. This includes data sets used in Commission reports, as well as historic data sets. Each can be reviewed online or downloaded. 

Review data

Latest Updates

Government response endorses Commission vision for greenhouse gas removals

Government response endorses Commission vision for greenhouse gas removals

The government has today (Tuesday 5th July) published its formal response to the Commission’s 2021 study, Engineered greenhouse gas removals. This study recommended that government commit to the wide scale deployment of new engineered greenhouse gas removal technologies by 2030 in order to meet its climate change obligations. The Commission concluded that these technologies offer the...

5 Jul 2022 By
James Heath’s speech to Utility Week Live: climate adaptation and resilience
Electricity pylon against a cloudy sky

James Heath’s speech to Utility Week Live: climate adaptation and resilience

The Commission’s Chief Executive, James Heath, today (17 May 2022) gave a keynote address at Utility Week Live on climate adaptation and resilience. The session, held at the Birmingham NEC, explored utilities’ approaches to adaptation planning and how they are seeking to build resilience to respond to the impacts of climate change already present, as...

17 May 2022 By
Commission welcomes “scale of ambition” of Energy Security Strategy
A pylon and electricity lines into the distance

Commission welcomes “scale of ambition” of Energy Security Strategy

The Government has announced its ambition to boost the UK’s energy self-reliance with an expansion of clean energy generation, including new nuclear plants and a quicker expansion of solar and wind power, in its new Energy Security Strategy. In response, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said: “The government should be credited...

7 Apr 2022 By
Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity systems: project overview
Women dealing with stormy weather

Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity systems: project overview

A page that brings together all the research from this joint project with the Met Office and the Committee on Climate Change

17 Mar 2022
Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity systems: short wind ramping events dataset
Picture of storm clouds

Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity systems: short wind ramping events dataset

Latest report from our project with the Met Office and the Committee on Climate Change on modelling changing weather patterns to better understand their potential impact on future electricity generation.

17 Mar 2022
NIA2 Baseline Charts
Images from the Baseline Report

NIA2 Baseline Charts

Data from the Baseline Report providing an overview of the current performance of the infrastructure sectors within the Commission's remit

16 Mar 2022
Infrastructure Progress Review 2022
Group of images reprepsenting different infrastructure sectors

Infrastructure Progress Review 2022

Our annual assessment of the government's progress on implementing its commitments on infrastructure.

16 Mar 2022
Commission highlights “slow progress” on infrastructure plans to deliver levelling up and net zero goals
Group of images reprepsenting different infrastructure sectors

Commission highlights “slow progress” on infrastructure plans to deliver levelling up and net zero goals

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16 Mar 2022 By
Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity systems: short duration events
Lightning storm in Nottingham

Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity systems: short duration events

The latest findings from the collaborative project with the Met Office and the Climate Change Committee on the possible impact of adverse weather on future electricity systems.

17 Dec 2021
Warming up a new way to model future behaviours
Woman and child wearing colorful pair of woolly socks warming cold feet in front of heating radiator in winter time. Electric or gas heater at home.

Warming up a new way to model future behaviours

An opinion piece by David Menzies, Modelling Lead for the National Infrastructure Commission. To a large extent, how you heat your home is your decision. For most people it’s also a decision taken when their existing heating system is at or near the end of its life. Will you keep gas central heating? Will you...

1 Dec 2021 By
Agent based modelling of a heat market
Woman and child wearing colorful pair of woolly socks warming cold feet in front of heating radiator in winter time. Electric or gas heater at home.

Agent based modelling of a heat market

Research by Frontier Economics illustrating how modelling the behaviour of individual 'agents' can support policy making.

1 Dec 2021
Advice note on nuclear power plant deployment
Dungeness Nuclear Power Station.

Advice note on nuclear power plant deployment

19 Nov 2021
National Infrastructure Assessment
View of Manchester city centre

National Infrastructure Assessment

An analysis of the UK’s long term economic infrastructure needs, outlining a strategic vision over the next thirty years.

15 Nov 2021
Commission pinpoints strategic gaps in infrastructure planning ahead of next landmark national assessment
Images from the Baseline Report

Commission pinpoints strategic gaps in infrastructure planning ahead of next landmark national assessment

The National Infrastructure Commission has announced the topics that will sit at the heart of its next major assessment of the UK’s long term infrastructure priorities, to be published in 2023, following analysis of the current performance of key sectors. The priorities will include identifying the infrastructure needed for hydrogen and carbon capture and storage...

15 Nov 2021 By
Baseline Report Annex B: Energy
Image showing a wind turbine being built landscape

Baseline Report Annex B: Energy

Analysis of the UK's energy generation infrastructure which informs the Baseline Report.

15 Nov 2021

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