Part of a series from the Fresh Start Group on what Leave would look like.
What would Vote Leave look like for an energy consumer?
It would mean:
- Improved energy security.
- Potential for lower energy costs.
- Continued commitment to climate change goals.
Current impact of EU membership
The UK’s own climate change ambitions are among the highest in the European Union as a result of the UK Climate Change Act of 2008 that requires us to reduce our carbon emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. Achieving this whilst making sure our energy is secure and our costs are kept down is essential, but EU membership reduces our flexibility in meeting those targets:
- The EU is planning to introduce an obligatory energy sharing arrangement between all Member States, which could threaten the UK’s long standing red line on energy security, particularly when East European states are so dependent on Russian gas.
- EU State Aid rules make it difficult to deliver policy choices e.g. choosing between promoting domestic rooftop or ground mounted solar is subject to lengthy EU State Aid assessment, as is whether new nuclear can be permitted, and whether we can support our steel industry by reducing their electricity costs.
- The EU measures our decarbonisation primarily on our deployment of renewables which adds to the costs on bills whilst not taking account of other ways to reduce emissions such as better energy efficiency and insulation.
Immediately following Vote Leave on June 23
There will be a smooth process of transition following a vote to leave the EU. EU laws are written into UK law so they will remain in place unless specifically repealed by the UK Parliament:
- The electricity cables and gas pipes (interconnectors) that we have supplying energy to/from Europe are operated by private businesses and would continue as before.
- Our electricity supply would remain secure due to our own UK commitment to ensuring sufficient availability from a mixture of sources including coal, gas and renewables such as biomass, hydroelectricity, solar and wind.
- The plentiful global supply of gas together with the gas we have from our own resources will maintain our gas security, and will keep costs down for the consumer. Most UK gas comes from the North Sea, Norway and the Middle East, not from the EU.
- Our legal commitments to decarbonise would remain in our own UK law.
When the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is complete
The UK will be able to decide freely our own domestic energy policies, which will include:
- Freedom to set our own decarbonisation goals, through low carbon sources like nuclear and renewables and also by reducing our energy demand through better insulation, better technology, better management of peak demand times etc.
- Ensuring our energy intensive industries are not sent overseas by the costs of decarbonisation; our steel industry has suffered from the EU’s control over state aid policies.
- Freedom to decide how to balance our mix of electricity resources; ironically, as things stand, the EU doesn’t let us discriminate against for example, dirty diesel generation in our capacity market!
- Protecting ourselves from the Commission’s ambition to create a single regime for energy security across the EU, thereby making sure our own energy security cannot be put at risk.
The website of the Fresh Start Group of Conservative MPs can be found here.