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New National Infrastructure Commission plans for long-term energy future

Last month, George Osborne announced plans to launch a National Infrastructure Commission to oversee £100bn of spending on infrastructure projects. Chaired by Tony Blair’s former transport secretary Lord Adonis, the commission will oversee spending on things like roads, rail links and importantly – Britain’s ailing energy network. As the chancellor made his announcement at the National Railway Museum in York he announced that energy infrastructure will be made a major target for the independent commission, along with investment in transport connections between northern cities and the London transport system. Speaking ahead of his Autumn Statement to be delivered on the 25th of November, George Osborne argued that the failure of successive governments to invest in infrastructure has resulted in higher energy bills, longer commutes and unaffordable homes. The chancellor promised that infrastructure investment would be placed at the very heart of his November spending review.

The state of Britain’s energy infrastructure

The world Economic Forum ranks the overall quality of Britain’s infrastructure as 27th in the world. This is poor considering Britain’s relatively small size and position in the world economy. Decades of underinvestment has led to an energy network that at times struggles to cope with demand. Today, the National Grid is investing £2bn a year in its essential networks but many argue that this is still not enough. The UK desperately needs new sources of electricity supply as well as smarter, more flexible energy networks which can cope with the growing energy demands of an increasingly tech-savvy Britain. Steve Holliday, who stepped down as Chief Executive of the National Grid this week has long been a vocal advocate of energy infrastructure investment. Recently writing in The Telegraph, Mr Holliday said: “In the past as a nation, we have often been long on vision, but short on delivery. “At the beginning of the 1980s, the government promised 10 new nuclear power plants, one for each year of the decade. Only one was built.” Mr Holliday goes on to argue that investment in infrastructure, and particularly investment in energy, is vital to achieving economic growth and other government targets like reducing carbon and other emissions. To meet 2020 emission targets, Britain’s energy infrastructure needs a significant cash injection. This should be made a top priority for the new National Infrastructure Commission. Creating extra energy supply and making the energy network more efficient will also lead to smaller energy bills for domestic and non-domestic energy customers across the UK. In a recent blog post we described how smart meters connected to an energy grid via the Internet of Things could make energy distribution more efficient and lead to more varied energy tariffs for even the smallest energy users. Utility Helpline are committed to helping businesses reduce their energy bills. Get in touch with an account manager to find out how much you could save today. Call: 0800 043 0423.

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