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Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster

Firstly, Happy New Year from us all at EUA. I thought I'd look back to 2015 for the first blog of the year, before skipping forward. Back in November, the Government's National Infrastructure Commission announced a consultation on challenges around Northern connectivity; London transport and UK energy supply. Last week EUA submitted our response - not surprisingly, we concentrated on energy, but not directly supply.

Let me explain. We suspect most responses will be based on how to spend money investing in new power generation - renewables and nuclear in particular. The bill will be astronomic to meet existing UK power demand, and simply unaffordable if we have to switch all heat demand to electricity, on top of population growth and switches to modes of transport. So our argument centred on recognising the value the existing gas distribution grid offers to meeting the UK's energy needs. Let's remember that 85 per cent of UK homes use the gas grid, heat currently accounts for 50 per cent of total UK primary energy supply and 40 per cent of UK green house gas emissions.

We face a choice. That is the point I made to the Commission. Valuing and continuing to use the gas grid to distribute energy to homes with infrastructure already in place, without extra generating plant being needed, being cost effective. Or spend a fortune building generational capacity that will be intermittent and inflexible, backed up by additional, costly investment in extra transmission and distribution costs required by the power networks.

It should be a no-brainer. And given the calibre of the people on the Commission, I hope they too see the sense in delivering our energy needs using existing, tried and tested infrastructure. With a nod towards transport, why try and re-invent the wheel?

Best wishes, 

Mike Foster CE

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