Procurement · 8 August 2017

Independent energy review launched to give UK business lowest costs in Europe

High energy price
The review will look for ways to reduce costs at each stage of the energy supply chain

The launch of an independent energy review into the costs of gas and electricity for UK businesses and homes has been announced, with the aim of keeping prices as low as possible.

The energy review will look closely at how providers, industry regulators and government can work together to maintain low energy costs while upholding the country’s domestic and international climate change commitments.

The review will consider the entire UK electricity supply chain, from generation to transmission, distribution and supply, looking for ways to reduce costs at each stage whilst considering new energy saving technologies like artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, robotics and storage.

The ambitious energy review follows on from government commitments made as part of its industrial strategy, and has the stated aim of making Britain the country with the lowest energy costs in Europe, both for businesses and for households.

Announcing the review, business and energy secretary, Greg Clark, said that it was an important step in upgrading the UK’s energy system for the future. “All homes and businesses rely on an affordable and secure energy supply,” he added.

“We want to ensure we continue to find the opportunities to keep energy costs as low as possible, while meeting our climate change targets, as part of the industrial strategy.”

Leading the energy review will be Dieter Helm – a professor of economic policy at the University of Oxford and former member of the Council of Science and Technology. Helm is considered one of the UK’s leading energy expert’s, having previously advised the prime minister’s office from 2004 to 2007.

Commenting on her appointment, Helm said: “My review will be independent and will sort out the facts from the myths about the cost of energy, and make recommendations about how to more effectively achieve the overall objectives.

“The cost of energy always matters to households and companies, and especially now in these exceptional times, with huge investment requirements to meet the de-carbonisation and security challenges ahead over the next decade and beyond.”

Clark went on to say: “Professor Helm will bring invaluable expertise to the review, and I look forward to seeing his recommendations.”

There are several government schemes already in place, to reduce energy costs and improve efficiency, which this review will hope to build on.

For business, £260m worth of relief was made available in 2016 for firms in energy intensive sectors, with financial incentives offered to owners for switching to cleaner fuels and processes.

Welcoming the review, director for people and infrastructure at business body the CBI, Neil Cranberry, said: “The CBI looks forward to working with the review to ensure any recommendations support continued business investment and innovation in a secure, flexible and low-carbon energy supply, together with efforts to improve efficiency.

“Competitive energy prices are an important part of a meaningful industrial strategy.”

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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