Report to the House of Commons

Decarbonising the power sector
– House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts
Decarbonising the power sector by 2035 is a massively ambitious undertaking, and vital to achieving net zero overall by 2050… Demand for electricity is also forecast to more than double over the next two decades…

Government has set ambitious targets for domestic energy generation for offshore wind, solar and nuclear power, and estimates that £280 to £400 billion of public and private investment in new generating capacity will be needed by 2037… the Chancellor announced in the Spring Budget £20 billion for carbon capture, usage and storage. However, this technology is untested at scale…

The Department has not yet set out how it expects decarbonising the power sector will impact energy bill payers and taxpayers…The Department told us that it is seeking to achieve its objective at least cost to the consumer, but confirmed that nascent technologies such as CCUS and small nuclear reactors will result in significant cost for both taxpayers and energy bill payers…

We are not yet clear what the Department’s plans are in respect of energy efficiency and consumer behaviour…In March 2023, government announced a further £1.4 billion to support energy efficiency, including for low income households. However, government’s track record in implementing energy efficiency schemes is patchy at best…In February 2022 we reported that government often over-estimates consumer buy-in to its policies, including those aimed at reducing emissions.

…achieving the government’s generating capacity ambition of 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 would mean overseeing the deployment of three times as much capacity in eight years as in the last two decades.