DEBATE: Do we need to prioritise domestic energy production and reduce electricity imports from the EU?

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Keep down bills, or boost energy security? (Source: Getty)

Do we need to prioritise domestic energy production and reduce electricity imports from the EU?

Tony Lodge, research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, says YES.

Investors in the energy sector urgently need a level playing field. Our new report – The Hidden Wiring: How electricity imports threaten Britain’s energy security – exposes how policymakers are supporting plans to import more and more electricity from Europe, despite these imports enjoying cost exemptions which power plants in Britain have to pay. This is market distortion and the CMA needs to investigate.

Interconnectors can only be relied on if there is spare electricity capacity at the other end of the wire. Our analysis shows that margins across Europe are falling. This could lead to future price spikes. Importantly, they could also exacerbate a supply shortage, as power would be exported out of the UK to the continent if the price is higher there. Scarce power will only flow to where the price is highest.

Britain needs to boost energy security and deliver lower bills to help the government’s industrial strategy.

A dash for more electricity imports which have unfair market access and risk price rises is the wrong policy.

Read more: Increasing electricity imports from Europe puts Britain's supply at risk

Matt Kilcoyne, head of communications at the Adam Smith Institute, says NO.

Diversity of energy imports is a strength, not a weakness. It means that the UK is not dependent on any one producer or special interest, and it keeps all our bills down.

Over the next decade, new connections will quadruple Britain’s import capacity with France, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark and elsewhere in Europe – unlocking £1bn of benefits to UK consumers.

Importers buy energy from producers from our closest neighbours and allies because it’s cheaper, and we all win as energy bills are kept low.

Usually energy security is argued for to protect against crises in the Middle East, or Russian aggression – precisely why you want diversity of suppliers. But to turn our noses up at cheap energy from our friends in Europe after Brexit in the name of “security” would be the very worst of perfidious Albion.

The UK can keep the lights on, cut carbon emissions, and bring down bills; imports have an increasingly important role in that.

Read more: Helm review: Government interventions have actually pushed energy prices up

Tags: Brexit