Security of energy supplies is vital to society and the economy. Recent events, described below, have pushed the issue to the top of the political agenda and prompted the Government to release a new British Energy Security Strategy. Recent spikes in the price of wholesale gas have severely disrupted the energy retail sector with more than 25 energy suppliers going out of business. Ofgem have raised the cap on energy bills and the Government have had to introduce support mechanisms for customers. The conflict in the Ukraine has also raised questions about the future supply of fossil fuels and the wider geopolitical implications of dependence on fuel imports.

As the UK transitions to net zero, it is possible that changes in the way energy is supplied could either alleviate or exacerbate issues relating to the security of energy supplies. The move away from fossil fuels will mean less dependence on imports but greater dependence on variable energy supplies like wind and solar. Energy markets will become more interconnected through the coupling of industry, heat and transport with the power sector. Increased digitalisation and demand side management could open up new services and business models. This POSTnote will focus on the technical issues that will affect the security of the UK’s energy system in the short to medium term. It would look beyond the immediate crisis in global fossil fuel markets to consider how the transition to net zero could play out in next 15 years.

Work on this briefing will commence in May 2022.

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