The UK faces energy shortages and hikes to household gas and electricity bills after Brexit if the transition is not managed well, a House of Lords committee warned on Monday.
Multiple bodies told the EU Energy and Environment sub-committee that the UK has become increasingly reliant on energy imports. Around 40 per cent of the UK’s gas supply now comes from Norwegian and other European pipelines while around 5-6 per cent of electricity comes from France, Holland and Ireland.
Frictionless trade in energy with European partners could be put at risk after the UK’s departure from the single market the committee warned.
It said trading outside of the EU’s Internal Energy Market would likely be less efficient than trading inside it, meaning consumers could be forced to pay more and energy supplies may be at risk during extreme weather or when power infrastructure suffers technical problems.
The Lords called on Government to set out how it will work with the EU to manage these problems.
In its evidence presented to the committee, the Durham Energy Institute concluded: “Whatever the final detail of the EU exit terms the UK is likely to be more peripheral to EU energy markets which will mean higher prices and more unreliable supply.
“Also, supply risks will increase around issues such as importing gas through subsea pipelines or electrical interconnectors linking the UK to other EU countries.”
Under the EU’s solidarity principle for gas, member states are obliged to help each other maintain supplies in the event of one country experiencing a problem.
It is unclear how the UK would fit into this arrangement after it leaves the single market in March 2019.
Chair of the Committee Lord Teverson said: “Individuals and businesses across the UK depend on a reliable and affordable supply of energy. In recent years, the UK has achieved such a supply in partnership with the EU, working with other Member States to make cross-border trade in energy easier and cheaper.
“Over the course of the inquiry the Committee heard benefits of the UK's current energy relationship with the EU, and the Minister acknowledged these benefits when he stated his hope that Brexit would result in as little change as possible. It remains unclear, however, how this can be achieved, without remaining in the single market, IEM and the other bodies that develop and implement the EU's energy policy.”
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