Future Energy Scenarios
The National Grid ESO (Electricity System Operator) has published its yearly Future Energy Scenarios (FES) report detailing four separate pathways that cover the future of energy to 2050 and beyond.
The ESO has taken onboard changes in policy, combined with technological progress and market forces, to create a range of credible scenarios. The scenarios have been modelled to reflect varying levels of decentralisation and the speed of decarbonisation.
Community Renewables (CE) – In this scenario there is a large focus on local energy schemes, boosting individual consumer engagement. Improved energy efficiency is a priority. Strong policy support promotes innovation and the transition towards renewables.
Consumer Evolution (CR) – This scenario sees a shift towards local generation and increased consumer engagement, like Community Renewables. However, a lack of strong policy direction means that progress is slow.
Two Degrees (TD) – Large-scale solutions are developed and consumers are provided with alternative heat and transport options. Priorities include increasing renewable capacity, improving energy efficiency and accelerating new technologies.
Steady Progression (SP) – This scenario evaluates the pace of the low-carbon transition at a rate comparable to today, slowing towards 2050.
Work on the FES 2019 document predates the UK government’s target for Net Zero emissions by 2050. Therefore, the scenarios follow the original Climate Change Act 2008 target of an 80% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.
Of the scenarios, Community Renewables and Two Degrees meet the 80% target with common themes of strong policy support and high consumer engagement. One of the main drivers in reducing the UK’s carbon emissions to date has been environmental legislation.
Is Net Zero likely?
The ESO included a Net Zero spotlight in the FES 2019 publication to reflect the recent Net Zero publication by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
Analysis in the FES 2019 report aligns with the Net Zero publication by the CCC. This states that reaching Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable, but only through immediate action across all key technology and policy areas.
In this scenario, the ESO highlight that electrification of the industrial and commercial sectors is vital in reducing emissions. Carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technologies also have an essential role to play.
At the 2019 Future Energy Scenarios Conference the new target was acknowledged and will likely be taken into account for the pathways modelling in FES 2020.
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