Information and Communication Technology (ICT), including data centres, communication networks and user devices, accounted for an estimated 4-6% of global electricity use in 2020. Increasing demand for ICT is expected to lead to an increase in global ICT energy use over the next decade. Experts have highlighted ongoing improvements in the energy efficiency of the technology. However, there is limited evidence on the energy use of ICT, and a significant degree of uncertainty in existing estimates. This POSTnote summarises estimates of the energy used across the ICT sector and trends that may affect it. It discusses developments in energy efficiency and issues related to energy reporting and standards.
Documents to download
Energy security (367 KB , PDF)
Over the course of 2022, household energy bills are expected to increase by almost 180% and businesses may see their bills double. This has been driven by increased demand for gas as the world emerges from COVID restrictions and the war in Ukraine, during which Russia has restricted exports of gas to Europe. The prospect of rising fuel poverty rates and gas shortages has brought energy security to the top of the political agenda.
Energy security risks go beyond high prices and fuel shortages. In the recent past, most energy security events have been failures of electricity networks, often due to storms. There have also been examples of customers not being able to access petrol and diesel due to distribution issues, such as a shortage of tanker drivers in September 2021. In the future, the transition of the energy system to meet the goal of net zero emissions is likely to change the energy security risks faced by the UK. As electricity generation continues to move from flexible gas turbines to variable renewables and non-flexible nuclear power, new operability challenges and threats such cyber-attacks will arise. The UK will also require new workforce skills, materials and investment to allow the net zero transition to progress. The effects of climate change, such as flooding and extreme temperatures, could also negatively affect the UK’s energy security.
A range of measures will be needed to maintain and improve the UK’s energy security through the net zero transition. Demand reduction, such as through household insulation, has been shown to be a fast, cheap and effective way of improving energy security by lowering overall energy demand. Increasing the amount of domestic energy generation can reduce the risk of energy failing to reach customers, either due to problems transporting it, or due to geopolitical tensions. As the energy transition progresses, new sources of flexible electricity generation will be needed to balance supply and demand, such as batteries, hydrogen, demand response or interconnection with other networks.
- Definitions of energy security can include the availability of fuel, affordability, environmental and geopolitical acceptability, and accessibility of energy.
- Energy security risks include high energy prices, fuel shortages, equipment failures, the effects of climate change and net zero transition risks, such as a lack of investment or system operability challenges.
- Great Britain’s energy security processes and metrics focus on electricity generation, and the reliability of gas and electricity networks, ignoring the price of energy.
- Measures to improve energy security include demand reduction, energy storage, diversification of supply, energy market reform and interconnection, but will not provide short-term energy price relief.
POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:
Members of the POST Board*
Peter Abson, National Grid Electricity Transmission
Keith Bell, University of Strathclyde*
Adam Berman, Energy UK*
Michael Bradshaw, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick*
Randolph Brazier, Energy Networks Association*
Timothy Chapelle, Energy Systems Catapult
Daniel Clelland, Energy Networks Association
Chloe Corbyn, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament*
Emily Cox, University of Cardiff & University of Oxford*
Simon Dawes, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy*
Sam Fankhauser, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford
Antony Froggatt, Chatham House*
Jonny Gallagher, National Grid ESO*
Rose Galloway Green, National Infrastructure Commission
Mike Gaskill, Offshore Energies UK*
Euan Graham, E3G*
Matt Hinde, National Grid ESO
Stew Horne, Energy Saving Trust
Alexandra Howe, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy*
Tom Hughes, National Infrastructure Commission
Craig James, National Grid Gas Transmission*
Bengt Johansson, Lund University
Tomoyo Joshi, Osaka Gas UK
Eireann Leverett, Concinnity Risks
Tom Luff, Energy Systems Catapult
Jinmi Macaulay, National Grid Gas Transmission*
Alex Mason, Osaka Gas UK
Ross McGhin, National Grid Electricity Transmission
Yusuke Nakanaga, Osaka Gas UK
Rebecca Pickavance, Energy Saving Trust
Alasdair Reid, Scottish Parliament Information Centre*
Anupama Sen, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford
Richard Smith, Ofgem*
Aidan Stennett, Northern Ireland Assembly, Research and Information Service*
Paul Sullivan, National Grid Gas Transmission*
Luke Sweeney, National Infrastructure Commission
Ruth Townend, Chatham House
Beth Warnock, Energy Systems Catapult
Stewart Whyte, National Grid Electricity Transmission
*denotes people and organisations who acted as external reviewers of the briefing.
Documents to download
Energy security (367 KB , PDF)
This POSTnote will consider the current plans for building new nuclear plant in the UK and the potential of delivering the Government's ambitions in this sector.
This POSTnote will consider the sustainability of biomass crop feedstocks grown in the UK, and the land use and other challenges that may arise.