According to a new report, the UK government is falling short on its own targets for domestic energy capacity.
The Hidden Wiring, released by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) this week, has found that in order to meet demand in 2030, Britain will have to import 20% of its electricity from continental Europe – ten times more than expected in 2012.
Reliance on imported energy increases vulnerability to supply disruptions, higher bills and price fluctuations, especially during a period when surplus electricity margins are falling.
With Brexit looming, the report puts forward the argument that the UK must become more competitive and less dependent on foreign electricity imports.
While it is agreed that interconnectors can be useful in delivering secure and cheap supplies across Europe, it has increasingly become a one-way stream of traffic for Britain. In the 12 months between March 2016 and 2017, the UK imported 17.22 TWh but only exported 2.78TWh, which demonstrates the extent to which Britain is falling behind in terms of exporting electricity.
Furthermore, while coal power stations in Britain are being closed down to meet emissions reduction targets, much of the imported energy from Europe come from coal. This means that rather than cutting carbon emissions, Britain is simply “offshoring” emissions at the cost of UK jobs.
Tony Lodge, lead author and research fellow at the CPS, said: “There are significant supply, cost and market distortion implications of doing this at a time when the Government should be looking to strengthen energy security and reduce bills. It would make much more sense for the UK to build up a safe electricity supply surplus from generators in Britain on a fair and level playing field.”