Future Energy Strategies
By Paul Homewood
More on the FES:
The National Grid has produced, in their own words, “a credible set of Future Energy Scenarios”, based around four scenarios:
We need not pay too much attention to these, as it is really the Gone Green option that is being driven by the Climate Change Act.
Figure 3.1.1 looks at forward trends in electricity and gas demand. (Note that, as the Grid is only responsible for electricity and gas, consumption of coal and oil for non-power use is not considered).
Under the Gone Green scenario, electricity demand rises from 334 TWh currently, to 346 TWh in 2030, and 384 TWH by 2040.
This seems to me to be highly optimistic, given the drastic drop in gas demand, along with the ambitious assumptions about the uptake of electric cars, reaching 27% of cars on the road by 2040.
The implication is that there will be large scale energy efficiencies.
(It is worth noting that it was only a year ago that the Committee on Climate Change, in its Fifth Carbon Budget submissions, was suggesting demand would rise to 380 TWh by 2030).
However, it is the breakdown of the Gone Green scenario which is most interesting:
1) The first thing to note is just how little that solar power will be contributing, even by 2040. (Note solar is the darker red band, second from the top, not to be confused with nuclear).
Even by 2040, it will only be supplying 8% of UK’s power.
This really does give the lie to the nonsense continually peddled by the likes of Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, that solar panels will become so cheap and battery storage so efficient as to make solar power the energy of the future.
And remember, this is the most optimistic scenario. In other scenarios, solar output barely rises at all.
2) You might just spot the “Storage” band. Although it is said that this will generate 10 TWh annually by 2040, whoever wrote the report does not seem to have realised that storage technologies don’t actually produce electricity.
I find this slightly disconcerting, coming as it did from the National Grid!
3) Nuclear rises from today’s level of 62 TWH to 119 TWh in 2040, though there is a squeeze on capacity in the 2020s, as old plant shuts before Hinkley and the rest start up. (Yes, I know!)
4) Non existent CCS jumps from nothing to 80 TWh in 2040.
5) We become heavily reliant on obscenely expensive offshore wind, rising from 17 TWh to 71 Twh by 2040.
6) We also become more reliant on interconnectors, though presumably this is a two way thing.
The Grid don’t seem to have done much planning around what they might do if we don’t get all of the expected new nuclear, or if CCS cannot be made into a viable option, though the No Progression option summarises the situation well:
The problem, of course, is that carbon intensity stops falling after the early 2020s, once coal has been phased out. And this is not allowed under the Climate Change Act.
The full FES report is here: