UK power sector could have negative emissions by 2033

27th July 2020 | Commercial Energy

Installing offshore wind capacity of 40GW in the UK, as well as the deployment of bioenergy and carbon capture and storage, could lead to negative emissions in the power sector by 2033, according to new research by National Grid ESO. National Grid ESO’s 2020 “Future Energy Scenarios” (FES) report said net zero carbon emissions can be achieved by 2050 or earlier under three of the four scenarios covered. Scaling up non-traditional sources of flexibility such as demand side response and storage, will also contribute to the negative emissions projection.

But, the report added, immediate action across all key technologies and policy areas, with fundamental changes for energy consumers, particularly in transport, heating and energy efficiency, are needed to achieve this. It’s estimated there will be over 11 million electric vehicles on UK roads by 2030 and over 30 million by 2040 in the most stretching net zero scenarios.

Negative emissions

By 2050 up to 80% of households with an EV will be “smart charging” their car, plugging in outside of the evening peak when energy is cheaper and demand on the grid is lower. Some 45% of homes will actively help to balance the grid, offering up to 38GW of flexible electricity to help manage peaks and fill troughs in demand. Energy efficiency of housing also features strongly with fundamental changes in how houses are heated in all the net zero scenarios.

2050 could see homes no longer using natural gas boilers and 20 million heat pumps instead, with as many as 8 million homes actively managing their heating demands by storing heat and shifting their use outside of peak periods.

National Grid ESO head of strategy Mark Herring said, “This year’s Future Energy Scenarios paint an exciting picture of net zero Britain with electricity playing a crucial role in meeting the 2050 emissions targets. Although these are not firm predictions, we’ve talked to over 600 industry experts to build this insight and it’s clear while net zero is achievable, there are significant changes ahead.”

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