Policy

Maintaining UK energy security

Issue

Energy security is about making sure consumers can access the energy they need at prices that are not excessively volatile.

The UK has experienced strong energy security from a combination of its liberalised energy markets, firm regulation and extensive North Sea resources. According to the information available, the outlook for UK energy security remains positive.

While the UK’s energy system is relatively resilient to energy security challenges, it faces ongoing risks from severe weather, terrorist attacks, technical failure and industrial action. These risks can be mitigated but it is impossible to avoid them entirely.

The UK’s energy system also faces a great deal of change as existing infrastructure closes, domestic fossil fuel reserves decline and the system adapts to meet our low-carbon objectives. These changes will create new challenges for UK energy security in the years ahead.

Actions

We’re taking the following actions to make sure the UK’s energy system has adequate capacity and is diverse and reliable.

Reforming the electricity market

Our programme for Electricity Market Reform (EMR) will attract the £110 billion of investment needed to replace and upgrade the UK’s electricity infrastructure.

Removing barriers to competitive markets

We’re reforming the planning system for nationally significant infrastructure (like windfarms) to speed up the consents process and include new categories of commercial and business development.

Preparing for energy emergencies

We work with industry and regulators to strengthen the resilience of the UK’s energy networks and assets, prepare for all energy emergencies and maintain capability to lead response and recovery operations across government.

Increasing energy efficiency

Our Energy Efficiency Strategy sets out how we’re lowering UK energy security risks through various initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of appliances, businesses and public sector buildings, including the Green Deal and the Smart Meter programme.

Maximising cost-effective recovery of UK resources

To provide reliable energy supplies that are not exposed to international energy supply risks, we issue licences for domestic oil and gas exploration and production and we support development of the oil and gas industry through UK Promote, PILOT and Project Pathfinder.

Working internationally

Our international work aims to promote low-carbon technologies, encourage investment in UK oil and gas production, make sure global energy supply is reliable and enhance price stability. This work includes the EU security of supply regulations and implementation of the Third package on Electricity and Gas markets, which will improve market liberalisation.

Maintaining reliable networks

We are making sure the UK’s energy infrastructure can continue to deliver the energy people need and to where they need it. We’re also making sure that new energy generation infrastructure is incorporated in a secure, timely and cost-effective way.

Reducing carbon from UK energy supplies

We’re increasing the use of low-carbon technologies to reduce UK dependence on international oil and gas markets in the longer term and maintain diversity in the domestic energy sector.

Background

In response to the challenges affecting energy security in the UK, in December 2012 the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) published the Energy Security Strategy.

The strategy:

  • identifies cross-cutting risks to UK energy security
  • assesses the main characteristics of energy security
  • outlines work already happening to maintain the UK’s reliable energy supply
  • sets out all of the actions we’re taking to maintain the UK’s energy supply

Who we’re consulting

Consultation on synergies and conflicts of interest arising from the Great Britain system operator delivering EMR

We’re seeking views on potential conflicts of interest and synergies arising between the new role for the system operator in implementing EMR and National Grid’s existing roles and interests. The consultation closes on 29 January 2013. Find out how to respond to the consultation.

Who we’re working with

The Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) and DECC jointly publish the annual Statutory Security of Supply Report, with input from National Grid. The report provides forward-looking energy market information and identifies risks and the forces driving the market.

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