National Grid ESO adds its voice on zero carbon by 2025, for electricity

Reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable, but requires immediate action across the whole energy system, according to the latest annual Future Energy Scenarios report from National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO). Greater coordination across electricity, gas, heat and transport, with digitalisation and data-sharing, will be critical.

The report is intended to stimulate debate rather than provide definitive predictions, says ESO, and outlines five potential energy futures – including net zero by 2050. Based on input from over 600 experts, it highlights the importance of different parts of the energy industry working together and details the critical actions needed to accelerate the decarbonisation of the system.

The analysis shows the positive role that electric vehicles (EVs) could play in decarbonisation, with a predicted 35mn EVs by 2050 providing greater flexibility and supporting increased energy from renewable sources. During periods of oversupply, EVs could be used to store excess electricity, says ESO.

The report also outlines large-scale changes in how power is generated, including further growth in wind and solar generation as coal plants close. On the domestic front, homes in 2050 will need to use at least one-third less energy for heating than today, and over 7mn hybrid heat pumps will need to be installed by 2050 to provide continued flexibility.

The changes outlined to consumer behaviour, infrastructure and systems clearly show the need for greater coordination across electricity, gas, heat and transport, with digitalisation and data sharing a critical enabler of the net zero 2050 target, adds the report.

Kayte O’Neill, Head of Strategy and Regulation at National Grid ESO, said: ‘We balance supply and demand of GB energy day-in and day-out, so see first-hand how the system is changing… it’s clear that, whilst net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable, there are significant changes ahead.'

‘It’s our ambition to be able to operate a net zero electricity system by 2025 and the fundamental changes outlined in this report make it more important than ever to take a whole system view to ensure we have a coordinated approach to decarbonising the whole energy sector.’

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