Security of Supply
“In recent years Britain was [energy] self-sufficient; today we are net importers of over 25 per cent of our annual demand; and by 2020 this proportion will be considerably higher. Estimates of import dependence by 2020 range from 45 per cent to much higher, 70 percent or more” (Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2009).
Being energy secure means having a consistent, reliable, and affordable energy supply. There is an increasing threat to the security of the UK’s energy supply which is caused by a number of key factors Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2011 (Office for National Statistics, 2011) including:
Higher levels of global energy consumption;
Increasing demand for electricity;
Political instability and conflict in energy producing countries;
Limits on production; and,
Inadequate energy infrastructure systems.
It is estimated that £110 billion investment will be needed in UK energy infrastructure – primarily power stations and the electricity grid – before 2020 if security of supply is to be guaranteed The government’s long term plans to deliver secure, low carbon and affordable electricity (National Audit Office, 2012).
The electricity grid is the nation-wide infrastructure that transports power from where it is generated to the end user (typically in the UK this is from the north to the south). This ‘centralised’ grid has evolved to channel electricity from a small number of big power stations to a large number of final users. The distribution networks in particular have been designed for a one-way flow of electricity.
To support the transition to a low carbon future – which will bring with it an increase in distributed and intermittent generation, principally from renewables – a modernised electricity grid is needed with greater capacity and the ability to manage greater fluctuations in supply and demand, while maintaining security of supply. Investment in grid infrastructure and new technologies that can efficiently store electrical energy will also be needed.
Relevance to Hampshire County Council
Local authorities are responsible for the provision of vital public services as their primary duty. To deliver these duties effectively, facilities such as schools, care homes, street lighting and housing require a reliable supply of power.
Twenty one percent (19 gigawatts) of existing generating capacity in the UK is scheduled to close during the next decade3. Without significant investment at both a national and local level, this could lead to disruptions in power supply and result in power cuts.
Relevance to Hampshire County Council as a comunnity leader
Approximately forty percent of the UK’s electricity comes from gas-fired power stations, and sixty percent of the world’s proven gas reserves are in Russia and the Middle East Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2011 (Office for National Statistics, 2011). National investment in energy infrastructure does not take into account local energy requirements and does little to create local resilience to the increasing threat to energy security.
Increasing pressure from the public for the County Council to demonstrate “responsible procurement” of energy (i.e. secure, non polluting, low carbon, supporting local jobs) could become a significant political issue in the future.
Rural communities in Hampshire are particularly vulnerable to supply disruptions as a result of two key factors: (1) rural properties tend to be ‘off grid’ and therefore rely on primary fuels for heat and power, e.g. Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or fuel oil, rather than the electricity grid; and, (2) because localised fuel delivery networks are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events, e.g. heavy snow.