ESC response to NIC’s Congestion, Capacity, Carbon: Priorities for National Infrastructure consultation

The Energy Systems Catapult welcomes the opportunity to respond to the interim National Infrastructure Assessment consultation on Congestion, Capacity, Carbon: Priorities for National Infrastructure.

The consultation examines seven key areas, and sets out the vision and priorities for helping meet the country’s needs up to 2050:

  • Building a digital society
  • Connected, liveable city-regions
  • Infrastructure to support housing
  • Eliminating carbon emissions from energy and waste
  • A revolution in road transport
  • Reducing the risk of drought and flooding
  • Financing and funding infrastructure in efficient ways

The key points that the ESC would like to make are:

  • The low carbon transition raises a range of broader co-ordination issues, within and across network infrastructures which may not be capable of resolution through familiar market mechanisms. This includes handling integration and interactions with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), hydrogen, heat networks and vehicle charging demands and infrastructure.
  • New policy frameworks and business models that promote an integrated, multivector approach to low carbon energy are needed to optimise the combination of low carbon energy sources, heat and power supply, flexibility, retrofit, microgeneration and storage in delivering energy services to consumers.
  • Progressing the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) remains of high strategic value to UK decarbonisation. A renewed strategy, including for deployment in the power sector, should be developed urgently, drawing on the lessons from cost reduction achieved in offshore wind resulting from sustained policy support.
  • It may be possible to continue to utilise parts of the existing gas transportation infrastructure (the pipes) but move from natural gas to low carbon forms of gas such as biomethane and hydrogen.
  • Achieving the changes that are needed to decarbonise the energy system on the scale required to meet the 2050 climate change targets will be a massive task over the coming decades. If the decarbonisation programme starts in 2025, around one million dwellings per year to 2050 would need to be retrofitted with low carbon measures.
  • Electric vehicles (EVs) represent a massive industrial opportunity for the UK in terms of battery and drive chain production, new network infrastructure and EV charging services.