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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute


Durham Energy Institute and the Northern Energy Task Force

(12 October 2017)

Durham Energy Institute has contributed to the Northern Energy Task Force which today has published its Northern Energy strategy recommending that cutting bills needs energy devolution not a price cap: 

  • Government energy price cap is a quick fix not a sustainable way to cut bills and drive clean, green growth
  • May should strip Big 6 of energy efficiency responsibilities and devolve the proceeds to local energy players
  • Devolving the carbon budget to the North of England as part of Clean Growth Plan could create up to 100,000 jobs and add £15 billion to the economy.

A twelve-month study by the Northern Energy Taskforce, which includes senior players from the public, private, voluntary and academic spheres [1], sets out clean growth strategy for the North of England.

Chris Jones, who is a DEI Advisory Board member and is Technical Leader, at Gutteridge, Haskins & Davey (GHD), has been representing DEI as an active member on the Northern Energy Taskforce.

Both Chris Jones and DEI Executive Director, Professor Jon Gluyas, participated in the Parliamentary launch of the taskforce back in April 2017 where Professor Gluyas, was one of three invited speakers.

Following on from the first two reports which examined the challenges and opportunities for the energy sector in the north and possible future outcomes, the final report explores in detail the economic potential of the sector and the challenges it faces – which include: 

  • Meeting the UK’s commitment to decarbonise by 2050 while ensuring the Northern economy grows, given its assets and historic dependence on energy.
  • Making the most of the North of England’s natural assets to meet its own power needs and exploiting this technology globally.
  • Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and its impact on energy research; the impact of leaving the single market on energy prices, and the consequences of withdrawing from Euratom on the UK’s nuclear industry.

Based on extensive research with key players in the sector across the North of England, as well as consultation within the sector, the report sets out a detailed vision to make the most of its energy assets.

An element of the vision is the consideration of Brexit. Here the DEI played a key role in providing expert insights from its wide network of academic and industry partners. Following-on from a DEI Policy Briefing [4] on the impact of Brexit for UK Energy, DEI initiated a regional survey and stakeholder workshop in collaboration with IPPR which supported a taskforce working paper on the impact of Brexit on Energy in the North of England.

The Strategy report warns that Whitehall policy has not been effective in helping the North adapt, being too far removed from the situation, and recommends: 

  • Central government strips the big 6 suppliers of energy efficiency responsibilities and hands councils and energy networks powers and funding for ‘local energy deals’ to make homes greener; roll-out solar panels, and help businesses become more environmentally sustainable [2].
  • The North of England is handed responsibility for its share of the UK’s carbon budget in a bid to help it manage its historical industrial base and incentivise green growth opportunities. Over time it would gain more powers over regulation and funding in return for progress.
  • Creating a new Northern Energy Accelerator to fund research and innovative green projects.

The report details how each of these might sit as part of a strategy to create 100,000 jobs and add £15 billion a year to the northern economy.

Other recommendations include: 

  • More flexible approaches to energy pricing and supply for key energy intensive foundation industries in the North;
  • A new Northern Low Carbon Homes commitment;
  • More rapid progress on carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen-for-heat demonstrator programmes;
  • Creation of a new Energy for the North body, like Transport for the North, to oversee the development and implementation of the strategy and take legal responsibility for the Northern Carbon Budget.

The strategy also identifies detailed action plans for a wide range of other renewable energy technologies such as offshore wind, tidal and bio-energy schemes. This strategy comes just weeks after the release of the Science and Innovation Audit (SIA): Offshore Energy [5] which showcases the strength of Northern organisations, including Durham University, across the broad area of offshore energy.

The Northern Energy Strategy will be launched in Leeds on 12 October, with speakers set to include:

  • Sir John Harman – Chair, Northern Energy Taskforce
  • Ed Cox – Director, IPPR North
  • Cllr Judith Blake – Leader, Leeds City Council
  • Sir David King – Foreign Secretary's Special Representative for Climate Change
  • Denise Massey – Managing Director, Energy Innovation Centre
  • Jim Cardwell – Head of Trading and Innovation, Northern Powergrid

Sir John Harman, chair of the Northern Energy Taskforce and former Environment Agency chair, said:

“The government is not making much progress on the Paris agreement and it’s unlikely to make its targets without a step-change in its approach.

“For instance, devolving carbon budgets would mean the North is responsible for its own destiny and turn a national policy-headache into northern prosperity, creating up to 100,000 of tomorrow’s green jobs.

“If it’s serious about spreading growth across the country, while meeting decarbonisation goals, the government must take this issue seriously and give the North of England real powers to kickstart a local energy revolution.”

Chris Jones a member of the Northern Energy Task Force and member of the DEI Advisory Board, said:

“Representing DEI on the taskforce has been an opportunity to help ensure that the resources, skills and enthusiasm which exist in the North are recognised.

The energy challenges we face can be met by the Northern region in a manner which not only enables us to maintain our position as a leader in Energy but importantly maximises opportunities for prosperity in the North and for the UK in the Energy sector by addressing issues of climate change as well as energy poverty” 

Professor Jon Gluyas, Director of Durham Energy Institute, said:

“Durham Energy Institute aims to become the 'go to' organisation for governments, developers, news organisations and more when it comes to energy matters. Our energy research spans the social and technological aspects of energy and our strong ties with energy companies, NGOs and governmental organisations ensure we are perfectly positioned as a hub for all sections of the energy sector to engage on the energy issues that matter to us all. Our work with regional partners to highlight the potential impact of Brexit on UK energy security and to showcase the strength of the Northern Energy sector are excellent exemplars of this. We are pleased that the work of Durham and regional partners in Energy Systems Integration, Offshore Wind and CCS, among other areas, are being recognised as an important engine for the Northern Economy and UK energy security by this strategy.”


For further information on the Northern Energy Task Force and Strategy paper contact:

Ed Cox,, 07961 979 262.
Maeve Cohen,,

For further information on Durham Energy Institute and our work contact:

Evelyn Tehrani, Durham Energy Institute, Durham University,, 


[1] The Northern Energy Taskforce was established to oversee an ambitious programme of work over 18 months to develop an energy strategy for the North of England.

The Taskforce is chaired by Sir John Harman, who is supported by a number of high-profile figures with expertise across infrastructure, engineering, finance, academia and local government. It was supported by IPPR staff in a research and secretariat capacity. The taskforce had three central objectives:

  • To develop a plan for the northern energy system to 2030, addressing the key needs and challenges facing energy consumers and businesses in the North.
  • To create an economic vision for the northern energy sector in 2030 and a practical roadmap for how to get there, addressing the opportunities for businesses, higher education institutions and the public sector in the energy sector.
  • To set out a plan for ‘energy devolution’ that will consider whether and how various powers and responsibilities for energy issues should be devolved to different pan-northern, sub-regional and local levels.

Other members of the Taskforce include:

  • Phil Jones, Northern Powergrid
  • David Gill, Northern Gas Networks
  • Paul Hamer, WYG
  • Richard Evans, KPMG
  • Carl Ennis, Siemens
  • Ingrid Holmes, E3G
  • Phil Taylor, Newcastle University
  • Paul Booth, Tees Valley Unlimited
  • Nina Skorupska, Renewable Energy Association
  • Julianne Antrobus, Atkins
  • Matthew Bilson, University of Sheffield
  • Graham Meeks, Green Investment Bank
  • Chris Jones, GHD / Durham Energy Institute
  • Anthony Hatton, Peel Group

The full strategy document is available on the IPPR website at

[2] As the centrepiece of Local Energy Devolution Deals proposals, we propose that receipts from the Carbon Floor Price (CFP) and Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) should be devolved. In aggregate, currently households in the North pay around £260 million in carbon taxes though fuel bills, with an average cost of £70 per bill payer.[1] These would be devolved to combined authorities via energy network operators and it is estimated they would be worth up between £12m and £47m depending on the size of the area.


Combined authority area

Value of devolved receipts

Leeds City Region


Sheffield City Region


Greater Manchester


Liverpool City Region


Tees Valley


[3] Durham Energy Institute ( the hub of energy research at Durham University. We draw on expertise of world-leading researchers and industrial partners to produce cutting-edge research into technology and society to tackle global energy challenges. DEI was born in 2009 out of the realisation that energy challenges cross conventional discipline boundaries and that new ways of thinking about and conducting energy research are required. DEI is now recognised for its ability to apply new methods and perspectives to existing and emerging energy challenges. By unlocking research synergies between different social and technical disciplines, DEI aims to produce major breakthroughs in our understanding of how to best meet the energy demands of the future.

We emphasise a ‘Science and Society’ approach to energy which tackles the societal aspects of energy technology as well as developing new energy technologies and solutions for the benefit of society. We have a range of expertise in energy technologies such as whole energy systems, renewables generation (wind, solar, geothermal, bio-fuels) and integration, transmission and distribution, smart energy systems, carbon capture and storage, geo-energy and hydrocarbons, and energy materials

[4] DEI Policy Statement on Impact of Brexit on UK Energy System

[5] Science and Innovation Audit: Offshore Energy

[1] National Energy Action analysis made available to IPPR.