Energy & Waste

Energy and waste infrastructure are central to delivering 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 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.

Latest Updates

Maintaining operability of highly renewable electricity system possible at little additional cost
Operability of highly renewable electricity systems
A wind turbine and electricity pylon

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...

24 Feb 2021 By
Learning the lessons for a highly renewable future
Operability of highly renewable electricity systems
Solar panels on a field

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...

24 Feb 2021 By
Research into renewable electricity systems – Baringa
Offshore wind power and energy farm with many wind turbines on the ocean. Sustainable electricity production

Research into renewable electricity systems – Baringa

24 Feb 2021
Operability of highly renewable electricity systems
Three Windmills on green hills in front of a stormy sky

Operability of highly renewable electricity systems

23 Feb 2021
Plans of action needed next to deliver strategic goals, says Commission
Annual Monitoring Report 2021
Montage of images representing infrastructure, including a woman charging an electric vehicle and a man wearing a mask using public transport

Plans of action needed next to deliver strategic goals, says Commission

Detailed plans for decarbonising energy supply, accelerating the roll out of electric vehicle charge points and connecting hard to reach areas with high capacity broadband are among the next steps needed to ensure government can deliver its aims for levelling up and meeting the net zero target, according to the National Infrastructure Commission. The Commission’s...

17 Feb 2021 By
Characterising adverse weather for the UK electricity system
Large Waves Breaking Against Sea Wall At Dawlish In Devon

Characterising adverse weather for the UK electricity system

14 Dec 2020
Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies
Drax Power Station at sunset, near Selby North Yorkshire

Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies

A study examining how greenhouse gas removal technologies can support the UK's climate ambitions.

25 Nov 2020
“A vital step and important signal”: Armitt responds to government plans for ‘green industrial revolution’

“A vital step and important signal”: Armitt responds to government plans for ‘green industrial revolution’

Responding to today’s announcement by the Prime Minister on government plans for a ‘green industrial revolution’, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “A 2030 deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans is a vital step to help the UK meet our net zero target. It’s an...

18 Nov 2020 By
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
Historic Energy Datasets
Offshore wind power and energy farm with many wind turbines on the ocean. Sustainable electricity production

Historic Energy Datasets

The Commission's Historic Energy Dataset provides data on the UK’s energy history spanning back as far as 1700.

2 Oct 2020
Renewables, Recovery, and Reaching Net Zero
Renewables, recovery, and reaching net zero

Renewables, Recovery, and Reaching Net Zero

Datasets including modelled projections of electricity system costs, consumer bills, capital investments and energy generation.

11 Aug 2020
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

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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.