Energy & Waste

Energy and waste infrastructure can help deliver a low cost, zero carbon future.

Updated:

Solar panels on a field

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 energy producers, utilities companies and those who manage the connections between them. Currently, 30 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from energy supply and buildings. The growth of renewable energy sources and the need to update 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 potential for a more flexible renewable energy mix. 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.

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.

Latest Updates

James Heath: Getting the evidence in place for key decisions on low carbon heat
Man turning on a British Combi Gas Boiler

James Heath: Getting the evidence in place for key decisions on low carbon heat

James Heath, Chief Executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, addressed Utility Week’s ‘Build Back Better’ Forum today (21 October 2020). His speech explored the policy decisions and investment needed to harness the full potential of low carbon heat, setting out the range of evidence that will be required to ensure effective decisions to address the...

21 Oct 2020 By
Renewables, recovery, and reaching net zero
Electricity pylon against the evening sky

Renewables, recovery, and reaching net zero

11 Aug 2020
Falling cost of renewables strengthens case for accelerating deployment
Electricity pylon against the evening sky

Falling cost of renewables strengthens case for accelerating deployment

New research carried out for the National Infrastructure Commission shows how sharp falls in the cost of renewable generation mean that Britain should aim for renewables to meet two thirds of electricity needs by 2030 and that this can be delivered at the same overall cost as meeting only half of total demand by that...

11 Aug 2020 By
Armitt: “Build Build Build” plans need to lock in environmental gains with long term strategy
windmills against a blue sky

Armitt: “Build Build Build” plans need to lock in environmental gains with long term strategy

Responding to today’s speech (‘Build Build Build’, 30 June 2020) by the Prime Minister, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Building back better, greener and faster are welcome ambitions and it is critical that we take immediate steps to secure jobs and build confidence across supply chains. “Opportunities remain to accelerate...

30 Jun 2020 By
New report a “timely reminder” of need for green economic recovery plan

New report a “timely reminder” of need for green economic recovery plan

The latest annual report to Parliament by the Committee on Climate Change says accelerating steps to address climate change must be at the heart of any economic recovery plan, and proposes a range of green stimulus measures in tune with recommendations made by the National Infrastructure Commission. The CCC’s latest report says government should use...

25 Jun 2020 By
Forecasting a changeable outlook

Forecasting a changeable outlook

You don’t have to be a trained weather forecaster to note that the weather in the UK is changing. The scientific consensus is that we will see an increase in the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events as a result of climate change. The UK government has legislated for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by...

12 Jun 2020 By
Adverse weather scenarios for renewable energy system testing

Adverse weather scenarios for renewable energy system testing

12 Jun 2020
Net zero: Commission recommendations and the net zero target

Net zero: Commission recommendations and the net zero target

4 May 2020
Cost analysis of future heat options (data)
Sun setting with atmospheric effect over traditional British houses and tree lined streets.

Cost analysis of future heat options (data)

23 Mar 2020
New technologies could offer cheapest route to a net zero electricity system

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

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...

6 Mar 2020 By
Net zero: Opportunities for the power sector

Net zero: Opportunities for the power sector

6 Mar 2020
Electricity system modelling
Electricity pylon against a cloudy sky

Electricity system modelling

6 Mar 2020
Annual Monitoring Report 2020 annex
Abstract image of a computer

Annual Monitoring Report 2020 annex

26 Feb 2020
Annual Monitoring Report 2020
thumbnail of NIC 2020 AMR Final

Annual Monitoring Report 2020

26 Feb 2020
Ofgem decarbonisation action plan a welcome step forward

Ofgem decarbonisation action plan a welcome step forward

The energy regulator Ofgem has today published its decarbonisation plan for the UK’s energy sector to support the growth of EVs, promote growth in offshore generation and unlock investment in green technologies. Its plan sets out nine actions to ensure energy networks can deliver the UK’s net zero emissions goals, including a programme to decarbonise...

3 Feb 2020 By
A renewable future for Britain is about more than meeting net zero

A renewable future for Britain is about more than meeting net zero

Just a decade ago, the jury was out on renewables. We questioned whether wind and solar would ever be affordable and resilient enough for us to rely on them. But today, it’s a different story. This year has seen a promising milestone in Britain’s transition towards a greener economy. In September, the government awarded Contracts...

5 Nov 2019 By
Utility regulators must have new powers if UK is to tackle climate change

Utility regulators must have new powers if UK is to tackle climate change

The UK will fail to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if regulators aren’t given new powers to ensure utility companies invest in sustainable infrastructure, according to a report from the National Infrastructure Commission. Chair Sir John Armitt said the UK’s regulatory system must adapt to meet the demands of the future and...

11 Oct 2019 By
Falling price of renewables shows a low carbon future can be low cost

Falling price of renewables shows a low carbon future can be low cost

The government has announced that twelve new renewable energy projects have won Contracts for Difference (CfD) – with some offshore wind schemes being delivered for as low as £39.65/MWh. It reveals a dramatic fall in the cost of offshore wind, with the strike price representing a 30% reduction on the lowest from the second CfD...

20 Sep 2019 By
MPs highlight need for swift action to boost energy efficiency of UK homes and workplaces
Modern white radiator with thermostat reduced to economy mode

MPs highlight need for swift action to boost energy efficiency of UK homes and workplaces

A new report today from MPs calls for urgent action to address poor energy efficiency in UK homes in order to avoid undermining the UK’s efforts to meet Net Zero carbon emissions, reflecting recommendations made in the National Infrastructure Assessment. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee’s report Energy Efficiency: building towards Net...

11 Jul 2019 By
Study highlights opportunities for interconnection and diverse renewables mix to build resilience of UK energy network to weather challenges

Study highlights opportunities for interconnection and diverse renewables mix to build resilience of UK energy network to weather challenges

A new review of research on future weather patterns highlights the importance of a rollout of diverse renewable generation technologies to ensure the resilience of the UK’s energy systems to stresses brought about by a changing energy mix and climate change. Publishing a new report commissioned from the Met Office, the National Infrastructure Commission said...

2 Jul 2019 By

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