CEO Blog: National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios prepare the industry for big changes over next 30 years

The energy landscape is changing rapidly, but what does the future hold for the next 30 years? Chief Executive Officer, Robert Groves comments on some of the headline statistics from National Grid’s recent Future Energy Scenarios Report.

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen the energy system transform. Renewable generation provided a record-breaking 29% of the UK’s electricity in 2017, and just last month it was reported that the UK has already recorded 1,000 hours of coal-free generation so far this year. So, what will the energy system look like 30 years from now? Going by this rate of change, it could look very different.

National Grid’s 2018 Future Energy Scenarios Report has helped to paint the picture of our future energy system. Their four potential scenarios are centred around decarbonisation and decentralisation, both key drivers as we strive to meet the Green House Emissions target for 2050. With two out of the four scenarios set to meet this target, we could be on track!

Further growth in renewables  

One of the biggest headlines in the report is the increase in low-carbon generation. Offshore wind being one of the most dominant technologies with up to a possible 43GW of capacity by 2050.

One of the more ambitious scenarios presents significant growth in solar PV, suggesting that the UK's solar generation capacity could reach 33GW by 2030 and 66GW by 2050. By 2050, onshore wind could also reach 50.7GW.

Total generation across the UK is expected to increase from 103GW today, to between 189 and 268GW by 2050. with up to 65% being local by 2050.

Whilst significant growth in more localised renewable generation enables a cleaner energy system, with it comes the risk of intermittency. If the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining balancing supply and demand on the grid will become even more challenging, especially with the increasing energy demand being driven by a rise in EVs.

Rise of EVs to ramp up total energy demand

Another headline statistic in the report is the rise in EVs. By 2020 we could see up to 330,000 EVs on the roads - a significant rise on the 166,000 EVs on the roads today. And with the Government ban on diesel and petrol cars by 2040, we could have up to 36 million EVs in the UK by 2040.  

The environmental benefits that the rising number of EVs will bring goes without saying, but this surge in EVs would ramp up total energy demand significantly. The report states the total added peak demand could reach 8GW by 2040. But how will the UK maintain security of supply? It is thought that smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology will play a key role in bridging the gap between supply and demand, by storing electricity, and releasing power back to the network during peak times. Although the practicalities around EV charging may seem a little complex, this is an exciting change, which will have a huge impact on the system over the next 30 years.

Preparing for our future energy system

It’s impossible to predict the future and who knows how the next 30 years will really pan out? We don’t have all the answers but as a next generation energy company we will help our customers navigate through the complexities and find new opportunities to stay ahead in this fast-paced market.

Here’s a short video with our outlook on the changing energy system and the new emerging opportunities that smart businesses should already be thinking about. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your next steps.