With energy security and affordability continuing to be high on the news agenda, National Grid has today launched our 2015 UK Future Energy Scenarios (FES), which set out a range of credible futures for how Great Britain’s energy landscape might evolve through to 2035 and 2050.
2015 UK Future Energy Scenarios
“These scenarios are more than National Grid’s view of the future, they bring to life the insights provided by people from right across the energy sector.”
Roisin Quinn, National Grid’s Head of Energy Strategy and Policy.
Under the Slow Progression scenario 13.6 million smart meters will be rolled out by 2025.
Source: 2015 UK Future Energy Scenarios.
The 2015 scenarios bring together viewpoints and insights from stakeholders across the energy industry, gained from an extensive engagement programme over the past 12 months, distilled into different pathways for Britain’s energy future.
This year’s four scenarios are:
Consumer Power: A world of relative wealth, fast-paced research and development and spending. Innovation is focused on meeting the needs of consumers, who focus on improving their quality of life.
Gone Green: A world where green ambition is not restrained by financial limitations. New technologies are introduced and embraced by society, enabling all carbon and renewable targets to be met on time.
Slow Progression: A world where slower economic growth restricts market conditions. Money that is available is spent focusing on low cost long-term solutions to achieve decarbonisation, albeit later than the target dates.
No Progression: A world focused on achieving security of supply at the lowest possible cost. With low economic growth, traditional sources of gas and electricity dominate, and little innovation affects how we use energy.
What the key themes tell us
A number of key themes emerge from this year’s scenarios. Firstly, in three out of the four scenarios Britain remains a net importer of electricity. Gone Green is the only scenario showing exports by the mid-2030s, highlighting the interaction between growth in renewable generation and the case for interconnectors.
The scenarios also highlight the increasing operability challenges facing the electricity industry. In future summers there will be lower demand than there has been historically, as a result of increasing production from small scale generation connecting at the distribution level. Innovative solutions will be needed to address these challenges, such as greater use of interconnection, the development of energy storage, more demand side response and new balancing products.
Turning to gas, sufficient supplies are available in all scenarios, however there is significant uncertainty on the source – whether indigenous or imported. The Consumer Power scenario sees the highest case for GB production from shale gas with 32 billion cubic metres per year from 2030. In contrast the Slow Progression scenario projects an increasing requirement for gas imports, with a 90% dependency by 2035.
In terms of Great Britain meeting its renewable and carbon targets on time, Gone Green is the only scenario in which this happens. Under this scenario renewable technologies contribute 34% of electricity supplied by 2020, while beyond 2020 low carbon electricity from a mix of renewables and nuclear underpins the electrification of heat and transport.
In 2018/19, the Capacity Market will deliver new sources of capacity and margin pressures will ease. Until then, electricity margins will remain narrow but manageable.
The value of engagement
Roisin Quinn, National Grid’s Head of Energy Strategy and Policy, commented: “First of all, I would like to thank everyone who contributed throughout the year to the whole process of producing FES. We could not have developed these scenarios without your help.
“These scenarios are more than National Grid’s view of the future, they bring to life the insights provided by people from right across the energy sector. It’s also important to remember that the scenarios themselves are not predictions; instead they offer a credible range of futures for what our energy mix might look like so that industry, government and other people active in the energy market can make informed decisions.
“The energy sector is changing very rapidly and I believe that one of the other key messages to come out of this year’s FES is that now is the time for action. Together we can capitalise on the opportunities and build solutions to the challenges of the changing energy environment – to maintain secure supplies of energy, delivered as affordably as possible, while helping Britain to meet its stated environmental targets.”
How to get involved
Collaboration is a vital aspect how National Grid develops the Future Energy Scenarios each year and we want to continue the conversation. By registering via our dedicated website at http://fes.nationalgrid.com you can sign up for future stakeholder events as well as viewing past FES documents, data and multi-media. You can also get involved in the debate on the future of energy on Twitter at #FES2015 and via our LinkedIn group ‘Future of Energy by National Grid’.