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Future Energy Scenarios

July 17, 2017

By Paul Homewood






The National Grid has published its annual Future Energy Scenarios (FES).

It works around four scenarios, but I’ll concentrate on the Two Degrees one.






In particular, this scenario assumes a rapid uptake of electric  cars, with 17% of all cars on the road in 2030 being pure electric (EV) and another 13% plug in hybrids (PHEV).

According to the FES, this could result in an an additional 8GW of demand at peak times by 2030, without what they call the highest consumer engagement, in other words charging cars at night. Even with this, peak demand is expected to rise by 4GW.

As we have already seen from another recent National Grid study, such hopes are little more than pie in the sky.

But let’s concentrate on the power scenarios. This is what the FES says about installed capacity:


Note how total capacity has to nearly double, to cater for inefficient and unreliable renewables.

We can break down the 2030 figures further:


If we exclude unreliable wind/solar, and short term storage, we are left with just 70GW. But, according to the FES, peak demand will be 65GW in 2030, even under the highly optimistic Two Degree scenario. It could easily reach 66GW.




It can be seen that capacity could be extremely tight, but worse still no allowance is made for downtime. No generation can be available all of the time, and currently my understanding is that an assumption of 85% is used for available capacity.

This would mean that we can only rely on 60GW of capacity.

But when you look at the detail, the whole thing becomes ever more frightening.

For instance, we are relying on 18.5GW of interconnector capacity, nearly a third of peak demand. As has been stated before, this is simply a cop out, and we have no idea what the source of it will be. And when wind power is low across N Europe in winter, can we even rely on such surplus power being available at all? To rely so heavily on imported power is surely playing Russian roulette with the country’s energy security.

Then we have CCS! There is little sign that any economically viable technology will be available by 2030, so how do we replace this 0.9GW.

The assumption about marine, ie tidal, power is equally risky. We know that it is extremely expensive, and even if Swansea Bay gets the go-ahead, there is no guarantee larger schemes will follow.

Quite apart from this, neither tidal nor hydro power cannot operate continuously, but there is little in the way of spare capacity to offset this.

It is assumed we will have 8.5GW of nuclear capacity as well, yet all we can rely on at the moment is 1.2GW at Sizewell B, plus 3.2GW at Hinkley Point, if it actually gets built.

All in all, there is an awful lot of downside risk, and very little room for opportunity.




The FES rather lets the cat out of the bag when it comes to electric cars.

If consumers do what they want, peak demand from EVs will soar by 18GW.


To make this more manageable, the Grid are relying on three things:

1) Mainly off peak charging

2) Smaller cars

3) Shared journeys

As they make clear:





I wonder what they’ll do if drivers don’t agree?

  1. Joe Public permalink
    July 17, 2017 3:09 pm

    Interconnectors are a bi-directional double-edged sword.

    That 18.5 GW ‘contribution’ can and will be just as easily an 18.5 GW deficit. Especially as France is running down its CO2-free nuclear fleet.

    • AlecM permalink
      July 18, 2017 5:50 pm


  2. July 17, 2017 3:11 pm

    future climate scenarios are based on a correlation between cumulative warming and cumulative emissions. the problem is that correlations between cumulative values are spurious. they contain no information.
    pls see:

  3. July 17, 2017 3:18 pm

    Yet another example of a complete lack of honesty and realism from the National Grid. When it all goes tits up, the people responsible for this garbage will have long since left with their millions.

  4. Jon M permalink
    July 17, 2017 4:29 pm

    All this is short term thinking. What we need are Thorium reactors for electricity [ we only went for uranium based reactors because of the handy byproduct needed for nuclear bombs] and Hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles, with the hydrogen produced using the off peak electricity generated by wind turbines etc. Both are existing technology.

    • July 18, 2017 7:23 pm

      I’m a little confused about the hydrogen thing.

      If your plan is to use existing electrical generating technology to create hydrogen supplies to store the electrical energy and then create a distribution system to deliver that stored electrical energy to consumers as a highly volatile, corrosive gas, why not just beef up the existing system and send the electrical energy as simple electricity? What is the advantage of converting the electricity to hydrogen in the first place? It certainly isn’t cheaper, safer, more convenient or more easily blended into the current infrastructure.

  5. A C Osborn permalink
    July 17, 2017 5:20 pm

    The other thing that really pisses me off is this statement.
    “High Taxes are levied on those who continue to use Carbon Intensive options, such as conventional Gas for heating.”

    What are they going to do, go electric and need another 100Gw of power?

    They are typical political Hacks, Mr Booker needs to take this apart line by line.

  6. NeilC permalink
    July 17, 2017 5:40 pm

    Getting closer to the Marxist/green/UN ideal of us being a third world country.

  7. It doesn't add up... permalink
    July 17, 2017 5:48 pm

    If power were consumer driven, it would be predominantly from the cheapest available sources, and our energy consumption would increase. Moreover, with cheap power, we would attract industry back to our shores, resulting in a further increase in power consumption. Windfarms and solar parks would simply not be replaced when they break down. Side benefits would include being able to manage with a less beefy grid, and self -sufficiency, rather than leaving our supplies open to being outbid by continentals short of power. We would of course not waste time with EVs, although we might choose to use PHEVs in city centres.

    • Hivemind permalink
      July 19, 2017 4:51 am

      You appear to have made the mistaken assumption that we will actually be allowed to have a choice in where our power comes from.

  8. Coeur de Lion permalink
    July 17, 2017 5:52 pm

    The autonomous car is a non – starter. No one will insure it. An expensive mobile accident in waiting. With no particular advantage either. I’m having nothing to do with one.

    • July 17, 2017 6:34 pm

      Maybe we have something to thank terrorists for, autonomous vehicles would make excellent guided bombs, surely enough of a problem to make them “unsustainable”.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      July 18, 2017 1:56 pm

      A case is ongoing in Norway where a Tesla on autopilot hit and seriously injured a motorcyclist. Questions are being asked of what approval testing was done and did it involve other vehicles such as motorcycles. It obviously didn’t include large white trailer units as was hit by an autopilot Tesla killing the occupant.

  9. July 17, 2017 6:30 pm

    NG are hiding the awful truth about wind and solar, there is now so much of it that more of it has very little impact on peak demands placed on other sources, which now occur at times of very low wind and no sunshine. They do this hiding in a sneaky way in their winter consultations, the Mickey Mouse “Equivalent Firm Capacity” percentage for wind power, (the percentage trick making people think that more wind power will give more firm capacity) is falling from year to year as wind capacity grows, reflecting my first sentence above.

    Its rather like the Greenhouse Effect, alarmists like to explain it, and leave people to assume that the effect is linear, but there is enough of it already to make that untrue, the growth is only logarithmic.

    The EV industry has probably realised the threat to it from a battery swapping system, and are not going down the only path that would solve the EV charging problem: batteries could be recharged directly from wind farms not connected to the grid, but then the owners would have to pay for it all themselves.

  10. bushwalker permalink
    July 17, 2017 7:04 pm

    To get to 8.6 GW of storage by 2030 National Grid will need to get a move on. Elon Musk reckons he’s building the world’s biggest battery in South Australia and it’s only 100 MW.

  11. John F. Hultquist permalink
    July 17, 2017 7:43 pm

    In these scenarios, the Utopian ideals have been replaced with the phrase “engaged consumers.” The new ones will work about as well as the old ones.
    Here is a list of the ones in the U. S.:

  12. Bitter&twisted permalink
    July 17, 2017 9:46 pm

    I will not be “engaging” in this madness.

  13. tom0mason permalink
    July 17, 2017 10:30 pm

    By insisting the majority of transport needs are catered for by EV or hybrid vehicle, surely the most obvious outcome will be a rise not just in night time baseload but 24/7 rise in baseload. Coupled to this, greater numbers of the less reliable power generation methods over the same timescale, then the figures appear to be at the usual ‘blue-sky’, aka cloud-cuckoo land level.

    The UK has already trialed battery a 3 years back does anyone have any information on what was the outcome.

    A report of it about to happen is here (sorry it’s the Grauiad)

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      July 18, 2017 12:43 pm

      Tom, you might find this interesting:

      Click to access SDRC+9.7+Successful+Demonstrations+of+Storage+Value+Streams+LoRes+v1.pdf

      reporting on the first couple of years of the Leighton Buzzard ‘Big Battery’. The most profitable use of it seems to have been in frequency control rather than peak lopping or STOR, but it looks like it worked technically to do that too albeit at a loss.

      Making money out of arbitraging day/night prices is only going to get harder if EVs eat all the night time (lack of) demand, but smoothing out the lumps in the grid created by renewables could be a money spinner for ever!

      • tom0mason permalink
        July 18, 2017 2:44 pm

        Much obliged.

  14. July 18, 2017 5:14 am

    What will become of movie car chases when we have self-driven cars?

    • Dave Ward permalink
      July 18, 2017 8:56 am

      I wonder what would become of this famous line from The Blues Brothers:

      “Elwood: There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses”

  15. Green Sand permalink
    July 18, 2017 7:22 am

    Expect to see a lot more about Musk/Tesla in the media. Backs are being scratched:-

    ‘Tesla adds James Murdoch to board after investors ramp up pressure ‘

    “James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox and son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has joined the board of Tesla, after months of pressure from investors about the lack of independent directors on the electric car company’s board…….”

  16. Europeanonion permalink
    July 18, 2017 8:11 am

    In a society where disagreement is a heresy and political ‘will’ trumps logic and attainability, “Can do” becomes lip service and goals are but indicators of a government’s self-professed energy and will, rather than representations of advancement and purposefulness. A current example, regardless of the idea that green energy is a force of nature rather than shrivelled toast, we have HS2.

    How the deployment of a such out of date technology, in a market where the standard form of transport (if improved would be perfectly acceptable) is anything but a godsend to volatile trade’s unions is a mystery. HS1 showed that having a premium service like that was to the detriment to all other services. Additionally, with land being used up already at a frightening rate, and so indiscriminately, by housing the countryside is undergoing a detrimental pillaging from which it will not recover. We are already forewarned by nature in decline that the balance of our environment is at a tipping point and HS2 is but another nail. probably, in our coffins and those of our descendants.

    That so many modern projects can masquerade as being pro-environment and yet their ugly deployment is so contrary is a wonder of the modern age that only the ‘Circumlocution Office’ could square. In the absence of real innovation and scientific freedoms we are being short changed by dim witted activity that is but a symptom of a trail of PR obsessed politics endeavouring to represent itself as being up and doing while actually ploughing real money into stasis, energy dissipated in clamour and trumpeting, Pyrrhic victories and Parliamentary sniping.

  17. Green Sand permalink
    July 18, 2017 12:18 pm

    ‘Controversial National Trust boss Dame Helen Ghosh quits to take over Oxford college’

    How do we make her take her damn solar panels and wind turbines with her?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      July 18, 2017 2:34 pm

      Now she’ll be plonking them all over the college roofs and lawns.

  18. July 18, 2017 12:40 pm

    Have just sent this email to the National Grid in the hope of finding out what the point of FES 2017 is:
    Referring to this video:

    It would appear Professor Paul Howarth, Head of the National Nuclear Laboratory [NNL], implies a Government policy exists for 75 GW [A] of nuclear power to be in position by 2080 to de-carbonise our energy supply network, with the National Grid rated at 300 GW.

    In the nearer term, Andrea Leadsom had this to say in April 2016: “…Industry has set out proposals to develop 18 gigawatts of new nuclear power in the UK at six sites – Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Bradwell, Moorside, Wylfa and Oldbury…” –

    Your FES 2017 Document seems to take no account of these [apparent] Government policies. For example in Fig 4.3 your TWh figures for nuclear in 2030 translates to about 9 GW of installed capacity and about 12 GW by 2050. Fig 4.4 is even further adrift – 1.3 GW of installed nuclear capacity in 2030 and 6.3 GW by 2050.

    I would like to know what is the point of you choosing to ignore [apparent] Government policies regarding the necessity for substantial levels of future nuclear power deployment? Are you hoping this document will change Government thinking to move away from nuclear power in favour of renewables?


    Colin Megson.

    Note [A]: 100 GW was the muted choice by 2080, but 75 GW was chosen as a more realistically achievable target.
    Haven’t a clue about the chances of a reply.

  19. July 18, 2017 3:40 pm

    Chasing extravagant dreams of renewable nirvana may lead to this…

    ‘Turkish power ship proposed for Adelaide’

  20. john cooknell permalink
    July 18, 2017 8:34 pm

    The 2017 scenario matrix shown in the report utilises the ubiquitous “four box” matrix, we should remember there is always a hidden fifth box that has the label “its actually too f***ing hard”!

  21. Keith Smith permalink
    July 18, 2017 11:39 pm

    I have just travelled across Northern Germany from Cologne to Brussels in a coach and found it interesting that they had wind machines cheek by jowl with coal fired power stations. My impression was that the turbines are more eye catching but the average person is not aware of the paltry amount of electricity they generate.
    Also it was wonderful to see the amount of coal being transported on the Rhine.

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