New laws passed to bolster energy security and deliver net zero
Landmark legislation becomes law to ensure bills are affordable in the long-term.
New laws passed to help ensure energy is affordable for households and businesses and make the UK more energy independent in the long-term. The act will help unlock £100 billion private investment in energy infrastructure and scale up jobs and growth, with measures set to accelerate development of offshore wind and help deliver our net zero commitments.
The biggest piece of energy legislation in the UK’s history has become law today (Thursday 26 October), laying the foundations for an energy system fit for the future.
The Energy Act 2023 has received Royal Assent and will transform the UK’s energy system by strengthening energy security, supporting the delivery of net zero and ensuring household bills are affordable in the long-term.
The Act will deliver a more efficient energy system in the long-term, helping to keep energy costs low. It will do this by increasing competition in Great Britain’s onshore electricity networks, through a new tender process – reducing costs for network operation and development. This new model is expected to save consumers up to £1 billion off their energy bills by 2050.
A specific merger regime for energy networks will also be created under the Competition and Markets Authority. This will minimize the risk of mergers between energy network companies having detrimental effects on consumers and is estimated to save households up to £420 million over the next decade.
There are also new measures for Energy Smart Appliances to prioritise safety and give consumers the confidence to transition to smart products, helping them to manage their energy consumption and reduce their bills. A smart electricity system could reduce system costs by up to £10 billion a year by 2050.
The government is expanding Ofgem’s remit to heat networks, allowing the regulator to set rules on excessive pricing and improve the quality of service for the half a million heat network consumers across the country.
The Act includes new consumer protections and frameworks, incentivising the heating industry to invest in low-carbon heat pumps, and including powers to deliver the smart meter rollout by 2028 – which could generate total bill savings to households of £5.6 billion.
Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said:
“The Energy Act is the largest piece of energy legislation in a generation. It will boost investment in clean energy technologies and support thousands of skilled jobs across the country.
It lays the foundations for greater UK energy independence, making us more secure against tyrants like Putin, and helps us to power Britain from Britain.
The Act also supports our new approach to make sure that families don’t feel a disproportionate financial burden as we transition to net zero, and forms a central part of our efforts to keep people’s bills affordable in the long-term.”
Minister for Nuclear and Networks Andrew Bowie said:
“The Energy Act is a statement of intent to support a flourishing British nuclear and low-carbon energy sector.
It will help create of thousands of skilled jobs and deliver real benefits for people across the UK – from cleaner energy to affordable bills.
The government has listened to industry and modernized our energy legislation, creating the framework for further green growth.”
The Act will help the government deliver net zero by 2050 in a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic way. It updates Ofgem’s remit so that it considers net zero targets as part of its everyday decisions and facilitates the first large village hydrogen heating trial – providing crucial evidence on the technology’s role in decarbonizing heat.
The government is also introducing a licensing framework for CO2 transport and storage to help deliver the UK’s first carbon capture sites – supporting up to 50,000 jobs by 2030.
These new laws also make the UK the first country to legislate for fusion regulation, enabling developers to plan with confidence and encourage investment into this flourishing technology, and driving the UK’s ambition for a prototype fusion power plant by 2040.
Establishing a new independent body – the Future System Operator – will ensure consumers can access a secure and decarbonised energy supply, key to enhancing the country’s energy security. The FSO will be responsible for systems in the gas and electricity network developing efficiently and keeping consumer bills low.