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The Economic Affairs Committee of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly has published a report into the policy responses of the BIPA jurisdictions to energy challenges. Read more »


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16 April 2024

UK and irish lawmakers issue report on energy security


The Economic Affairs Committee of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly has published a report into the policy responses of the BIPA jurisdictions to energy challenges.

Download the full report here.

Governments of the relevant BIPA jurisdictions--- the UK, Ireland, and the Crown Dependencies-- should make clear plans for developing their energy grids for the renewable transition, and ensure their planning systems can cope with rapid grid expansion, the report said. Many projects have been hampered by delayed connections just as governments are seeking faster disengagement from fossil fuels.

BIPA lawmakers also said that both the UK and Irish governments should come up with clear policies and support for growing the skills base for retrofitting older, less energy-efficient properties. The report added that this should be accompanied by efforts to calculate the number of people required to do the work so that they can be recruited and trained.

Each of the relevant governments’ energy strategies includes a commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in order to address the threat of climate change in light of global climate science demonstrating the very real impact of global warming, where we are witnessing more frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans as examples of climate instability.

Speaking on the report, Committee Chairperson Deputy Brendan Howlin TD said: “One of the most pressing challenges facing the UK and Ireland is ensuring that the electricity grid is ready to serve the market by accommodating new sources of renewable electricity generation. It is clear that grid capacity across BIPA jurisdictions needs to be significantly strengthened in order to make use of the planned expansion in renewable electricity generation. This will require careful long-term planning and major investment, and coordination to ensure that the grid is able to support new generation.”

“The relevant BIPA jurisdictions’ Net Zero targets present challenges but also opportunities. As well as being vital to address the threat of climate change, these targets will help to secure the long-term future of energy supply and so provide households and economies with sustainable and affordable energy in the future. In all BIPA jurisdictions, an urgent priority for meeting Net Zero targets is to decarbonise electricity supply. A mixture of initiatives will be needed to achieve this, including: increasing the capacity for generating electricity from renewable sources; new solutions for storing electricity; and upgrades to the electricity grid.”

 “The UK and Irish Governments should update this Committee on what actions have been taken to advance energy interconnection between the BIPA jurisdictions following the signing of their Memorandum of Understanding last year. They should take every opportunity possible to build on this arrangement and so deepen cooperation on interconnection and energy security across our islands. “

The report also examined how consumers could be more effectively protected by government interventions during future energy shocks, drawing from lessons of the recent energy crisis. Among its recommendations were for Governments to identify vulnerable households, people without direct relations with their supplier or alternative fuel users by using existing data that they hold.

BIPA consists of politicians from the UK Parliament, the Oireachtas, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd and the Crown Dependencies. It was established to deepen relations between the UK and Ireland.


Some key recommendations in the report include:

  • Governments in the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies must ensure that they have a clear plan for developing a power grid that is able to accommodate the growing proportion of energy that is generated from renewable sources. They must ensure that the planning system is fit to support the rapid development of the grid, so that it can meet the demands of the future.


  • The governments should work with energy companies, local authorities, and other relevant stakeholders to improve the availability of public information about community energy projects, including where there is grid capacity available to support small-scale community energy generation. They should also develop programmes that deliver clear benefits to the places where energy projects and transmission lines are located.


  • The Committee recommends that all BIPA jurisdictions consider establishing and funding specific, time-bound targets for reducing fuel poverty, as are currently in place in Scotland and Wales.


  • In the event that future consumer energy bill support is necessary, the UK Government should work urgently with the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure that it can be introduced in Northern Ireland in parallel with Great Britain.


  • In anticipation of future price shocks, the Committee recommends that Governments, working with local authorities, identify households which do not have a direct relationship with an energy supplier and so might not be automatically reached by future energy bill support. If Governments roll out similar energy bill support in the future, these households should be the target of information campaigns making them aware of the supports available.


  • The Committee recommends that Governments across the BIPA jurisdictions utilise existing data they hold about households’ eligibility for benefits and economic circumstances to identify a cohort of households who would require priority support in the event of a future energy price shock. This would enable future support packages can be targeted and delivered quickly.


  • Governments should work to address barriers to decarbonising industry, such as lack of infrastructure to support electrification and high capital costs.


  • Governments in the BIPA jurisdictions should accelerate their work to address barriers to making buildings more energy efficient, and communicate clearly in terms of policy and support that encourages the growth of the retrofit industry and skills base. Each jurisdiction should work to quantify the number of workers that will be required to meet its retrofitting needs, and proactively recruit and train skilled apprentices and reskill existing workers to that purpose. BIPA jurisdictions should also work collaboratively to ensure the security of supplies for retrofitting, such as solar panels.


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