DECC update - Autumn 2015

This update sets out DECC’s key priorities and the recent progress the department has made against them. It includes a number of progress reports, updates and recent publications of interest.

We know that affordable, reliable energy is critical to our economy, to our national security, and to family budgets. That is why we have a long-term plan to:

  • Ensure the UK has a secure and resilient energy system,
  • Keep bills as low as possible for hardworking families and businesses,
  • Meet our climate change commitments by cutting carbon emissions as cheaply as possible,
  • Manage our energy legacy safely and responsibly.

Security of supply

The provision of secure energy supplies is the Department’s first priority and underpins everything that we do. The Department will continue to work across the oil, gas and electricity sectors to ensure the UK has a well-functioning and resilient energy system. To help secure domestic supplies of oil and gas, we are creating the independent Oil and Gas Authority to ensure that we can get the most from the North Sea to support growth and jobs, particularly in Scotland. We will also continue to encourage investment in the safe exploration of shale gas so that we can complement our gas imports with increased domestic supply.

To secure electricity supplies in the near-term, two new mechanisms for buying additional capacity were introduced in 2014. These are being used again this winter to provide extra protection to ensure the lights stay on. The Government has established a Capacity Market to bring forward new investment in electricity generation. We are on track for the second capacity auction in December 2015 and for the next Electricity Demand Reduction auction in January 2016. Please see the following documents for more detail:

  1. Statutory security of supply report 2015
  2. Electricity Market Reform (EMR) annual update 2015

Keeping bills low

We are committed to keeping bills as low as possible for hard working families and businesses through a combination of retail market reforms, heat and energy efficiency programmes and controlling costs for bill payers.

At the heart of our approach is a long term vision for competitive markets. The Competition and Markets Authority has concluded its provisional findings, and we are committed to acting on its final recommendations. The market share for independent suppliers has grown and we will continue to support this transition – making switching quicker, easier and more reliable, providing advice through our Big Energy Saving Network and ensuring people are aware of the potential savings they could make through our Power to Switch campaign.

Smart meters will give consumers much greater control over their energy use and therefore their bills. Over 1.7 million smart and advanced meters have already been installed in the UK, and by the end of 2020 every household and small business will be offered a smart meter.

A smarter system also means reducing demand. More than 1.2 million households are seeing lower bills due to energy efficiency improvements over the last 5 years. We are committed to ensuring a million more get the same benefits by the end of this Parliament. Please see the following documents for more detail:

  1. Fourth Annual Report on the Roll-out of Smart Meters
  2. The Green Deal and ECO Annual Report

Cost-effective decarbonisation

The Government is committed to taking action on climate change and meeting its carbon targets. The actions taken to decarbonise the power, heat and transport sectors mean that the UK is on track to meet the second and third carbon budgets and we will be setting out our plans for meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets next year. UK emissions continue to fall; recently the UK saw one of the largest annual reductions in emissions from the power sector on record, against the backdrop of a growing economy.

The UK cannot act alone to address climate change. That is why achieving a global deal in Paris with a system of regular reviews that maintains momentum and allows us to continue to raise global ambition over time is so important. We are working with others such as European partners to develop an effective and credible EU Emissions Trading System which will drive market led action to reduce emissions. In order to help the world’s poorest adapt to climate change and to promote clean growth, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will provide at least £5.8 billion to the International Climate Fund between 2016 and 2021. Please see the following documents for more detail:

International climate finance project reports

Energy Legacy

Throughout the Parliament, we will continue to ensure the safe and responsible management of the UK’s energy legacy and that we do so as cost effectively as possible.

The Government is firmly committed to delivering geological disposal as the safest and most secure means of managing our radioactive waste in the long term. Taking forward a geological disposal facility will also support new generations of nuclear power stations in the UK.

As well as management of our legacy, DECC also supports international energy agencies. This includes provision of technical support to the International Atomic Energy Agency, to support the Agency’s work under the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Please see the following document for more detail:

Published 18 November 2015