The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) submits today its vision of a future low carbon energy system to the UK Parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. (1)
The Select Committee has announced an inquiry into the development of a low carbon energy infrastructure in the British Isles in light of recent energy policy decisions by government and wider concerns over energy security. (2)
In its response, NFLA comment on the avalanche of reports from financial and energy analysts that have concluded conventional utility models as being no longer fit for purpose. These reports highlight the changes to the old centralised utility model, which are on the horizon, and the importance of new technologies. They suggest that decentralised energy supply will be increasingly important in the future.
NFLA argue that the current British electricity system is large, centralised and dominated by incumbents and self-reinforcing governance. In a few countries / states like Germany, Denmark and California, real change is happening in energy systems. In its submission to the Select Committee, NFLA provide a cogent analysis on the likely decreasing importance of baseload electricity in future low carbon electricity networks and the important role the heat sector could have in decarbonising electricity. It also emphasises the important role local authorities can play in transforming local energy systems.
The key conclusions of the NFLA report are:
- Future low carbon electricity networks will need flexible back-up generation which can be turned on and off quickly to provide electricity at peak times when renewables are not producing much. Large centralised baseload power stations (like new nuclear reactors) will undermine moving towards a clean energy future, and simply result in more renewable electricity going to waste.
- Flexible renewable sources of electricity such as geothermal, biomass (from sustainable local sources) and anaerobic digestion, which have identical variability to coal-fired power stations, should be promoted in UK energy policy.
- The UK should aim to double its international grid interconnector capacity with Ireland and other European countries by 2020.
- The UK should team renewables up with grid-scale storage so that surplus output is captured for use later when the sun fails to shine or the wind fails to blow. A National Policy Statement for energy storage should be developed to encourage would-be investors and developers in storage technology.
- A national strategy to install new district heating networks is required. New Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Stations can provide the back-up flexible generation needed in a renewable dominated system, and heat stores working in conjunction with heat pumps can make the most of renewable electricity surpluses.
- Local authorities should be encouraged to establish energy service companies. New legal, planning and institutional frameworks as well as incentives will be required.
NFLA Chair Councillor Norman McDonald said:
This excellent report provides the basis for an enlightened and practical energy policy in the British Isles that will deliver the low carbon polices vital to mitigate the effects of climate change. They directly challenge the UK Government’s misguided support for baseload nuclear power and its irrational polices that are currently decimating the renewable energy industry. I urge the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee to take up our energy vision and encourage them to advise the Government to do likewise.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 0161 234 3244 or 07771 930196 or Pete Roche, NFLA SC Policy Advisor, can be contacted on 0131 444 1445.
Notes for editors:
The NFLA submission to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee is attached with this media release. It will be placed on the NFLA website http://www.nuclearpolicy.info today.
Energy and Climate Change Select Committee inquiry into developing low carbon energy infrastructure (closing date for submissions is November 2nd)