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Committee Corridor: UK ‘uniquely exposed’ to current energy crisis

24 November 2022

“The UK is almost uniquely exposed to the current energy crisis, which is primarily about gas...and the reason that we’re quite exposed to high gas prices is that quite a high proportion of our electricity comes from gas-fired power stations, about 40% of the total.” says Simon Evans of Carbon Brief, speaking to Committee Corridor host Darren Jones about energy security in the latest instalment of the Parliamentary podcast. 

Mr Evans discusses some of the technologies available to secure Britain’s future energy supply - including nuclear, hydrogen and energy storage - and the hard choices and challenges that they present.  

The key to the UK’s energy security in a low-carbon world will be drawing from a variety of sources and reducing demand according to MP Anna McMorrin who sits on the influential Environmental Audit Committee. She said, “I think there needs to be a combination, a mix of energy. So, I think we do need some nuclear power” adding however, “this is not a quick fix solution”. An expansion of renewables, including onshore wind opposed by the Government, and making homes more energy efficient would see some quicker wins, she said. 

Both McMorrin and Evans lamented the awarding of more licences to drill for North Sea oil and gas as counterproductive. Given the lead times involved, Mr Evans said that new gas exploration “will make absolutely zero difference” to the energy price crisis right now, calling the Government’s defence of the policy on environmental grounds “pretty strained”.  

Greg Clark, who chairs the Science and Technology Committee currently undertaking an inquiry on delivering nuclear power, told the podcast the Committee had heard evidence demonstrating “a degree of scepticism” that the Government can meet its aims to ramp up nuclear power. 

He said that they heard that it’d be wrong to relay on small modular reactors, since there is a record of developmental delays and the Government has so far been unwilling to pay for the technology.  

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