What doe the future hold for energy in the UK?

What doe the future hold for energy in the UK?

What does the future hold for energy in the UK?

It's hard to satisfactorily answer the question of what the future holds, both in the UK and elsewhere, when it comes to generating and consuming energy in a sustainable way. A wide range of political and economic factors weigh on short and long-term progress towards decarbonisation targets, investment in green infrastructure, and promoting consumer and business accountability.

We can, however, predict how the future might pan out if a particular trend, or combination of trends, sets the course for things to come. This is the recurring goal of the National Grid's annual Future Energy Scenarios report, the most recent edition of which was published on July 15th.

What doe the future hold for energy in the UK?

According to the grid operator, the UK faces one of four possible futures for energy and sustainability between now and the 2030s: Consumer Power, Gone Green, No Progression, and Slow Progression. In terms of their optimism for a carbon-free world, they vary widely.

Scenario 1: Consumer Power

The National Grid describes its first scenario as "a world of relative wealth, fast-paced research and development, and consumer spending". In this timeline, the UK adopts a relaxed approach to meeting decarbonisation targets. Some 15 million smart meters are installed, five million homes are heated by low carbon energy, one in six cars are electric and the country's economy grows an average of 2.4 per cent per annum.

Scenario 2: Gone Green

Gone Green is the only scenario in which all carbon and renewable targets are met on time - the result of government and industry not limiting their spending in the pursuit of sustainability. Interestingly, the UK would register the same rate of economic growth as in the Consumer Power scenario, but install almost twice as many smart meters (27 million) and heat twice as many homes (10 million) with low carbon sources.

Scenario 3: No Progression

In the No Progression timeline, the world focuses on "achieving a secure energy supply at the lowest possible cost". We see barely any innovation in the use of energy, with fewer than two million low carbon-heated homes and just one in 20 cars powered by electricity. Average annual economic growth dips to 1.9 per cent.

Scenario 4: Slow Progression

Finally, the National Grid describes a possible future in which slow economic growth (1.9 per cent per annum) forces government and industry to focus on "low-cost, long-term solutions to achieve decarbonisation". By the 2030s, the UK will be home to 15 million smart meters and 2.3 million low carbon-heated homes, and one in 12 cars will be electric.

"The energy industry is changing rapidly and at National Grid, we are right at the heart of that change," said Roisin Quinn, the National Grid's head of energy strategy and policy.

"We haven't got a crystal ball, but our scenarios offer a glimpse into the future, using our unique insight into the trends shaping the energy landscape."

What do you think the future holds for energy in the UK? And is your business acting to ensure the best possible scenario for everyone?


Posted by William Rodriguez

Image courtesy of ThinkStock