National Grid ESO publishes Future Energy Scenarios 2023 with a warning that “a once in a lifetime opportunity will pass us by” unless more radical steps are taken.
Published every summer, Future Energy Scenarios is the grid network operator’s annual look into the future of the nation’s energy outlook.
It is developed based on the input of hundreds of industry experts and sets out a series of four credible pathways for Britain to try and meet its net zero by 2050 target, as well as meet National Grid ESO’s goal of a decarbonised electricity system by 2035.
The four framework scenarios analysed in Future Energy Scenarios 2023 remain broadly unchanged to reports from previous years.
- Falling Short: the least ambitious and the slowest credible decarbonisation – actually missing the net zero by 2050 target – with minimal behavioural change. Decarbonisation in power and transport but not in heat
- System Transformation: driven mainly by the way energy is generated and supplied rather than changes in consumer behaviour; focus on hydrogen for heating and greater supply-side flexibility.
- Consumer Transformation: driven mainly by consumer behavioural changes rather than changes to power generation and supply; focus on electrified heating and a quicker transition to energy efficient homes.
- Leading the Way: the most ambitious and fastest credible decarbonisation based on significant lifestyle changes, which would meet the net zero target by 2046. Relies on heavy investment in renewables, building storage for excess electricity, and developing a smarter, more flexible energy system.
Key Recommendations From Future Energy Scenarios 2023
This year’s report outlines action under four critical strands:
- Policy & Delivery: Measures to reduce uncertainty are needed to ensure the UK delivers a net zero energy system that is affordable and secure. This includes a call to accelerate the uptake of heat pumps, the need for a clear plan and funding for the development of hydrogen and carbon capture use and storage, and more robust emissions accounting standards.
- Consumer & Digitalisation: Consumer behaviour and digitalisation are pivotal to achieving net zero but easy access to information and the right incentives are critical. This includes added emphasis on energy efficiency, particularly in the housing and construction sector.
- Markets & Flexibility: Improved market signals and new distributed flexibility solutions are key to managing a secure, net zero energy system at lowest cost to the consumer. This includes commercial trials of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) business models and greater incentives for consumers to provide Demand Side Response.
- Infrastructure & whole energy system: Benefits to the whole energy system must be considered to optimise the cost of delivering net zero technology and infrastructure. This includes the creation of a strategic network for investment, better collaboration between government, Ofgem and industry, and a coherent strategy to locate large electricity demands.
“Our 2023 Future Energy Scenarios highlight one key overall theme – we must act now to achieve a clean, secure and fair energy system for all. If we don’t, a once in a lifetime opportunity will pass us by.
“Over the coming 12-18 months the ESO will transition into the Future System Operator – taking a broader ,whole system view on how Great Britain can deliver on its net zero ambitions while maintaining a reliable and affordable energy supply.”
– Fintan Slye, National Grid ESO Executive Director
Read the full Future Energy Scenarios 2023 document here. Alternatively, get a snapshot in this special ‘FES in 5 minutes’ summary.