Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Liam Kirkaldy
12 March 2015
Lords warning over electricity system

Lords warning over electricity system

A Lords report has slammed the UK Government’s approach to maintaining electricity security, stating that MPs should not be congratulated for keeping the lights on given the measures taken have brought costs to both the tax payer and the environment.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee examined the resilience of the UK’s electricity network following concerns over a possible blackout this winter, finding that although supply was maintained, the measures taken to generate extra capacity are at odds with the Government’s aim to decarbonise the system.

The report, titled The Resilience of the Electricity System, also raised concerns over the possibility of the electricity system being brought down by a cyber attack.

It states: “We do not think that the Government has sufficiently informed the public that, with the present and foreseeable state of technology, it is not possible for the electricity supply to be low-cost, resilient and low-carbon all at the same time (the so-called energy trilemma).

“If the Government pursues decarbonisation as an objective, in line with its legal and international obligations, and at the same time seeks to ensure that power remains reliably available at all times, this is likely to mean higher electricity prices, with attendant economic and social costs, at least in the short term.”

The Lords warned that flexible generation will be increasingly important to balance the electricity system. It said the UK’s approach is “not acceptable for an advanced economy”.

Chair of the Committee, Lord Selborne, said: “We’re entering new and unchartered territory. As we strive for more decarbonised electricity provision, it will become harder and harder to keep electricity affordable and to guarantee security of supply. These are the three irreconcilable pressures of the ‘energy trilemma’, and we feel that there is more the Government needs to do to inform the public about potential higher prices.

“We found that new technologies mean that our electricity system is undergoing immense and radical change. The report stresses that the Government must stay ahead of the game, with dedicated investment into research and development across a wide range of technologies, and constant alertness to cyber-threats. Only then can the Government ensure that it can weather any storm, and continue to keep the lights on in the long-term.”

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Liam Kirkaldy - Sketch: If the Queen won’t do it, it’ll just have to be Matt Hancock.



Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top