10 recommendations for UK energy policy in 2019

11 Jan 2019

Looking back on 2018 the scorecard for UK energy policy looks mixed. Optimists can point to rapid emissions reductions, cost falls in renewables and the centrality of clean energy within the Industrial Strategy. The UK is on the way to meeting the first three carbon budgets, and a transformation of the power sector is well underway.

However, looking forward to 2019 it is clear that there are an increasing number of policy gaps and uncertainties. The government needs to take urgent action to ensure that the UK continues to meet statutory emissions reduction targets, and goes further to achieve net zero emissions. This not only requires new policies to fill looming gaps in the portfolio, it also requires much greater emphasis on sharing the benefits and costs of the low carbon transition more equitably.

Our 10 recommendations for 2019 are:

1. The delivery of a heat and energy efficiency White Paper. The Industrial Strategy mission to reduce building energy use should also be extended to existing buildings.

2. A better, more targeted approach to the energy needs of low-income households. Energy efficiency investment for these households should be funded via general taxation.

3. Urgent large-scale trials of heat decarbonisation using hydrogen are required to understand whether it could be technically, economically and socially viable.

4. The utilisation of a dashboard of indicators to monitor gas security during the energy transition. The current one dimensional approach is not sufficient.

5. Future electricity policy should build on the Electricity Market Reform policies that have worked well, and adapt them in the light of changes in technologies and costs.

6. Changes in incentives for ‘black start’ and other ancillary services are necessary to ensure that the electricity system remains resilient as it changes.

7. The 2040 target for phasing out conventionally fuelled vehicles should be brought forward and linked to accelerated investment in networks and charging. The current target is inadequate and does not fit with our emissions targets.

8. The Industrial Strategy needs to be strongly linked to market creation policies for low carbon technologies. Carbon capture and storage is in particular need of such policies to progress beyond its current holding pattern.

9. There needs to be more focus on equity and justice to ensure widespread support for the energy transition. The UK government should consider setting up a process similar to Scotland’s Just Transitions Commission to achieve this.

10. Continued vigilance is required to mitigate any negative impacts of Brexit, particularly those that could affect integration with European energy markets.

These recommendations were taken from the UKERC Review of Energy Policy: 2018. Read the full briefing here.