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.

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

“The priority now is to get on with it”: Sir John Armitt responds to government’s net zero strategies
Three Windmills on green hills in front of a stormy sky

“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...

19 Oct 2021 By
Hydrogen strategy “an important milestone” but clarity on costs needed soon
Image of hydrogen molecules

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,...

17 Aug 2021 By
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.

29 Jul 2021
Can local energy planning help solve ‘double challenge’ of net zero and levelling up?
Modern white radiator with thermostat reduced to economy mode

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...

28 Jul 2021 By
Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity system: long duration events

Adverse weather scenarios for future electricity system: long duration events

28 Jun 2021
James Richardson speech to WEETF event on the hydrogen economy
Image of hydrogen molecules

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...

26 May 2021 By
Welcome boost for electric vehicle charging infrastructure

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...

24 May 2021 By
Maintaining operability of highly renewable electricity system possible at little additional cost
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
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
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

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