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
National Infrastructure Assessment
An analysis of the UK’s long term economic infrastructure needs, outlining a strategic vision over the next thirty years.
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...
Second National Infrastructure Assessment: Baseline Report
Our analysis of the performance of key infrastructure sectors which will inform the work leading to the UK's second National Infrastructure Assessment
“The priority now is to get on with it”: Sir John Armitt responds to government’s net zero strategies
The government has today (19 October 2021) published a number of documents setting out commitments to support the transition to a lower carbon economy. Responding to publication of the Heat and Buildings Strategy, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Kick starting the heat pump market to reduce costs for households to...
Hydrogen strategy “an important milestone” but clarity on costs needed soon
The Commission has welcomed today’s publication (17 August 2021) of the government’s UK hydrogen strategy and associated consultations, noting that the outcomes of the latter will need to address the challenges of reducing the cost of hydrogen production and ensuring a fair distribution of those costs. Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission,...
Can local energy planning help solve ‘double challenge’ of net zero and levelling up?
An opinion piece by Cissie Liu, senior regulation analyst at SSE Plc and Mike Davis, chartered engineer and a senior consultant at E4tech; both members of the Commission’s Young Professionals Panel (YPP). Background The Commission’s YPP has committed to explore decarbonisation and levelling up as our two key themes for 2021, as both have a...
Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity system: long duration events
James Richardson speech to WEETF event on the hydrogen economy
The following remarks were given by our Chief Economist James Richardson at the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum event on Creating the hydrogen economy, which took place earlier today. “Hydrogen seems to inspire equal parts optimism and scepticism. Perhaps that’s only to be expected from a new technology. But I thought it would be...
Welcome boost for electric vehicle charging infrastructure
The energy regulator Ofgem has today announced £300m of investment to ensure the UK has the energy infrastructure necessary to support the move to low carbon transport and heating while maintaining secure supplies. This includes new infrastructure to support 1,800 new ultra-rapid charging points at motorway service areas. In response, a National Infrastructure Commission spokesperson...
Maintaining operability of highly renewable electricity system possible at little additional cost
Concerns about operating the electricity networks when there are high levels of renewables generation can be overcome without significant costs to the consumer through effective deployment of existing and emerging technologies, according to analysis from the National Infrastructure Commission. The existing electricity network was designed around generation from coal, nuclear and gas-powered generation. Increasing the...
Learning the lessons for a highly renewable future
The last few months have been a busy time for UK energy policy. The government published its long awaited Energy White Paper, The Climate Change Committee produced its 1,000 pages of advice to the government on the level of the next carbon budget, and HM Treasury published its interim report on the costs of the...