Energy Flexibility is at the heart of the new National Infrastructure Assessment

The NIA outlined three aspects that will progress us towards a faster net zero world: 1) speed of planning, 2) savings for households, 3) heat pumps

In our last blog, we discussed how energy flexibility will be one of the critical pillars of the energy transition. Alongside this, the modernisation of our national grid requires large scale infrastructure investment. For this reason, we at Elyos Energy were delighted with the latest instalment of the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA).

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) is the agency responsible for providing expert advice to the British Government on infrastructure policy. Last month, The NIC released its second National Infrastructure Assessment. The NIC conducts these reviews every 5 years to lay out the national 5 year strategy for Infrastructure investment for the country. 

Key recommendations

The first two recommendations from the Commission are as follows:

“The government should: 

  • Add low carbon, flexible technologies to the electricity system to ensure supply remains reliable, and create a new strategic energy reserve to boost Great Britain’s economic security.
  • Take a clear decision that electrification is the only viable option for decarbonising buildings at scale, get the UK back on track to meet its climate targets and lower energy bills by fully covering the costs of installing a heat pump for lower income households and offering £7,000 support to all others.”

This is great news for people and great news for the planet!

Speed of planning

In addition to the core recommendations, the NIP argued for greatly increasing the speed of planning for major project. The plan puts a specific emphasis on the speeding up planning permissioning for the electricity system. “The current planning system is a blocker to timely delivery of the electricity network.” This is a welcome prompt from the NIP given the problems facing the national grid. 

Big savings for households

There is also expected to be large savings for households driven by the transition away from fossil fuels to electricity. The Assessment finds that households will save £1,000 per year by the mid 2030s compared to today. Household installation and the increased use of efficient heat pumps are the biggest drivers of this drop.

More support for heat pumps

At Elyos Energy we see heat pumps as critical for the energy transition and also a great way to unlock energy flexibility. This is because all heat pumps are mandated to be smart heat pumps which can create significant capacity for turn down and turn up.

Heat pumps have been in the news recently with Rishi Sunak increasing the grant from £5k to £7.5k per household while at the same time removing the mandate on private landlords to make the switch quickly. 

The NIP adds to the debate around heat pumps with a series of recommendations. In particular, The Commission propose that the government should:

  • Completely cover the cost of heat pump installations for lower income households  (costing £1.3bn per year to 2035)
  • Provide a subsidy of £7k to all other households with the grant reducing over time as the cost falls (costing £1.9bn per year to 2035)
  • Allocate £2.3bn per year to 2035 to improve energy efficiency and install heat pumps across the public sector estate and social housing.

If these proposals are adopted, they will mean a significant increase in the pace of heat pump roll out. It looks like Hydrogen is out as the commission has now formally called on the Government to rule out Hydrogen for heating.