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Future Energy Scenarios – 2018

July 14, 2018

By Paul Homewood




The National Grid has just published this year’s Future Energy Scenarios (FES). It is the usual mish mash of wishful thinking and make believe.


As usual there are four scenarios:



In terms of meeting 2050 targets, the “Two Degrees” option is probably most realistic (albeit totally unachievable!):




Let’s look at a few highlights. (Much of this detail is available in the Data Workbook, available here – warning: it is a long download!)

Electricity Supply

Below is the projected generating capacity in 2050, for Two Degrees:




Total capacity is 224 GW, compared to a current peak demand of about 50 GW.

However, dispatchable capacity in this scenario is only 46 GW (thermal and nuclear). Below is the full list:

Biomass 3.7
CCS 12.1
Gas 9.5
Hydro 2.1
Interconnectors 19.8
Marine 6.1
Nuclear 18.6
Onshore wind 22.3
Offshore wind 43.4
Other renewables 5.7
Other thermal 0.2
Solar 43.7
Storage 17.3
Vehicle to Grid 17.9
Waste 1.9

Total capacity 224.3


It is worth noting:

  • CCS at 12.1 GW – there appears to be no viable alternative if CCS cannot be made to work.
  • Interconnectors at 19.8 GW – the FES reckons that there will be net exports of electricity by 2050, because of all the surplus wind power we will be lumbered with. However, it does not explain why Europe will want it, if they too have similar surpluses.

More importantly, they don’t say how we can rely on importing when we are short of supply, when Europe will also be in the same boat.

  • Marine – 6.1 GW – given that Swansea Bay has just gone down the plug hole, this looks to be unrealistic
  • Nuclear – 18.6 GW (effectively assumes six Hinkleys will be built)
  • Storage – 17.3 GW – this compares to 2.9 GW currently. While storage will have a part to play in smoothing out supply and demand between day and night, it does not address the inherent intermittency of renewable energy, despite claims to the contrary.
  • Vehicle to Grid  – 17.9 GW – this is the potty idea that drivers will let the grid take power from their EVs at times of peak demand.

Peak demand for electricity will rise to 87 GW by 2050, under the Steady Progression and Consumer Evolution scenarios, which are likely to be more realistic than the Two Degrees, which assumes most cars will be charged off peak, using smart technology:


To meet peak demand, and allowing for de-rating (which recognises the fact that capacity cannot be available 100% of the time), we would need about 100 GW of dispatchable capacity, instead of the 46 GW planned.

Which begs the question – where will the difference be made up?

As noted, while we may get some from interconnectors, particularly the Norway one, it is a very risky strategy to rely on this.

Solar power produces next to nothing in winter, which leaves wind power.

And if the wind does not blow, all of those car and other batteries are unlikely to be charged up in the first place, to be drawn down on later.


I may be estimating on the high side, although that is surely what the National Grid should be doing themselves.

But even under the most optimistic scenario, we are still looking at peak demand of 79 GW. This assumes that most EV charging will take place at night, while V2G also helps to reduce peak period demand. But can you seriously expect a driver to plug in his car when he gets home, just so the Grid can drain it flat?

The most likely scenario is somewhere in the middle, around 85 GW, nearly double the amount of dispatchable capacity projected.

It is tempting this plan was written by a sixth former, it is that naive.







As the above chart shows, electricity only contributes a small amount to CO2 emissions, currently just 10%.

In other words, we seem to be going to great lengths, enormous expense and huge risks in order to save a very small amount of emissions.

“Others” accounts for 17%, and there is apparently little we can do about these emissions.

Heating is the major slice, contributing 54%. Yet both the Grid and the government still seem pretty clueless about tackling the problem.

The FES rehashes the argument for hydrogen and heat pumps. As far as hydrogen is concerned, we already know that the transition will be prohibitively costly, something the FES seems afraid to mention. Moreover the additional running costs of using gas to produce hydrogen, instead of burning the gas in the first place, will add considerable amounts to energy bills.

But, as the FES does acknowledge, producing hydrogen by Steam Reforming still produces large amounts of CO2 anyway:




So you still need CCS , which does not exist as a viable process.

The only alternative process is electrolysis, which does not emit CO2, but is a much more expensive (and small scale) process:




Householders, who already face ever larger green subsidies on their electricity bills, would be horrified if they knew how much more will be loaded on their gas bills, if these plans come to fruition.


As for heat pumps, there is still very little demand for them, and no likelihood of them becoming widespread, despite the FES’s exhortations. Yet FES assumes that there will be about 10m by 2050, up from 30000 now.

Nowhere in their plan though do they appear to recognise how much demand for gas peaks in winter.


The estimated national half hourly heat demand (red) for 2010, and the actual national electricity demand (grey).

Even if only a fraction of this is switched to heat pumps, peak demand in winter would rise well above that forecast by FES:


As I wrote a few years ago, if the government wants us all to switch to low carbon heat, it has few options:

1) Ban existing technology

2) Price existing technology out of existence

3) Subsidise low carbon alternatives.

In this respect, there is one disturbing comment, tucked away in the FES’ Security Framework Document, which details all the assumptions that are used as inputs into their models;

One such assumption is labelled “Residential Gas Tax”, described as:

The level of tax levied on residential gas use to incentivise households to use low carbon heating

Under both the Two Degrees and Community Renewables scenarios, the level of this tax is assumed to be “high”.

It is amply clear that people don’t want heat pumps, but watch out for a swingeing tax on the gas we need for our conventional boilers.



The whole document is little more than an exercise in make believe, with no acknowledgment of the costs entailed, or the risks involved. (And we have not even got onto road transport yet!)

In other words, it is just the sort of report the government asked for.

  1. Dave Ward permalink
    July 14, 2018 1:47 pm

    “Vehicle to Grid – 17.9 GW – this is the potty idea that drivers will let the grid take power from their EVs at times of peak demand”

    But that IS NOT generating “Capacity”!!! – it’s merely (inefficient) storage, and shouldn’t be shown in the first graphic any more than the adjacent segment…

    • dave permalink
      July 14, 2018 4:02 pm

      “17.9 GW…”

      • Athelstan permalink
        July 14, 2018 11:08 pm


  2. Bitter@twisted permalink
    July 14, 2018 1:59 pm

    The words “cloud cuckoo land” spring to mind.
    Are these morons actually paid for their idiotic ramblings?

    • David Guy-Johnson permalink
      July 14, 2018 3:08 pm

      Perhaps they are just saying what the politicians want to hear, to keep them sweet?

    • Curious George permalink
      July 14, 2018 4:22 pm

      It is a modern version of the oldest profession.

  3. July 14, 2018 3:30 pm

    Total insanity! How are these people allowed to get away with such dangerous nonsense?

  4. July 14, 2018 4:01 pm

    The government is hoping the climate change hysteria will go away so they can muddle through as usual. These plans are to be used to justify doing nothing. This is good news. I lived through the syn fuels hysteria of the late 70’s. The plans required massive capital investments and doubling the number of chemical engineers.. instead Reagan deregulated natural gas. The point is that plans like this will never be implemented. The future is natural gas as Germmany knows.

    • Keith permalink
      July 14, 2018 4:18 pm

      Stephen, I sincerely hope you are right. My concern is that the Energy Dept and Government are so stupid that they will believe this report. What they will do is anybody’s guess, but you can be sure of one thing, it will be the wrong thing.

      • Bitter@twisted permalink
        July 15, 2018 7:17 am

        We should sue them.
        Just like the greens do.
        For “knowingly endangering our children’s future”.

    • Curious George permalink
      July 14, 2018 4:24 pm

      I like Germmany.

      • roger permalink
        July 15, 2018 9:39 pm

        A triumph of hope over experience perhaps?

  5. bobn permalink
    July 14, 2018 4:22 pm

    ‘Heat-pumps’ are mentioned with gay abandon, without specifying what sort and size of ‘heat-pumps’. This is like saying ‘boilers’ – electric powered? gas? oil? condensing? Define please! A ground-sourced heat-pump can comfortably heat a detached 4 bedroom (well insulated) house. It would need to be of reasonable scale. Typically to give a thermal output of 9.7kw/h a gain of 50c temp will enter the house with the water (brine) returning to the ground collector at a nominal 0c. To gain this heat a ground collector would typically consist of 3 x 1.2m deep trenchs each 55metres long and 30+cm wide. Each trench being fillied with 32mm coiled piping (slinkies) all linked to a pump. This delivers the heated brine to a large (225litre) heat- exchanging tank to then flow and return around a radiator system and heat a hot water tank. These systems do work well and have very low running costs if properly installed.
    However, They are expensive to install! They also require a large tree-free ground area (60m x 5m) that wont be crushed or disrupted and is preferably sunny. Such gardens may be widely available in the USA, but not for the UKs terraced and semi-detached houses. So there is no space for effective ‘heat-pumps’ to heat any but the larger of UK properties (assuming Madam wants all her garden borders and patio’s excavated!).
    Now Air-sourced ‘heat-pumps’ are cheaper and easier to install, but collect very little heat and even if very large will not warm a normal house, they are just a top up to a base heating system.
    So are we talking air-sourced – (low-effectiveness) or ground-sourced (very effective but unfeasible for most properties) here? The difference in output is like comparing a nuclear to a wind-powered power station. They are both ‘power stations’ so why specify!!!?!

    P.S. The UKs EPC (energy performance certificate) is so vague as to be near useless and doesnt even calculate for ground-sourced heat pumps. We did a study of a Ground-sourced detached house, and the EPC system estimated electric use at £2482 pa, while actual measured costs averaged over 7yrs were £1156. So the Govt measuring system is over 100% in error! And this house was brightly lit, practised no energy economies and ran a jacuzzi and electric sauna at peak hrs for 6 months or more of the year. While proving the Govt measures garbage it did prove a ground-sourced heat-pump is exceptionally efficient and economical once installation cost is discounted.

  6. A C Osborn permalink
    July 14, 2018 4:38 pm

    Paul, where does the “Peak Demand” graph come from?
    It shows just under 60GW for last year and the National Grid shows around 40GW.
    Where does the extra 20GW come from?

    • July 14, 2018 8:08 pm

      It’s all from the National Grid’s FES.

      The 2017 figure is 59.4GW, but it notes that this “includes losses”.

      In other words, as their projections are for electricity supplied, to supply 50Gw you need to generate about 60GW.

  7. Broadlands permalink
    July 14, 2018 4:53 pm

    2050 target met? Thirty-two years? Whatever happened to that minor requirement that we capture and safely store enough CO2 to take us back to 1987 when CO2 was at 350 ppm? Those 50 ppm of CO2 represent at least 370 BILLION tons of oxidized carbon….to be buried somewhere… met by 2050? No wonder Jim Hansen is angry about the Paris plans. Nobody is paying attention to how long it will take and how much it will cost. Unrealistic, ridiculous are two words that come to mind. Other words are not nice to use in polite society.

    • bobn permalink
      July 14, 2018 9:58 pm

      Given that all scientific evidence shows CO2 has a negligible (probably nul) influence on climate, it matters not a damn how much CO2 is captured or stored. its just a waste of time and money to chase the wicked witch CO2. That said i make and release as much co2 as i can every day from my farm processing as I can. Its great for the planet, plants and life. Free the CO2! I’m putting that on a T-shirt!

      • dennisambler permalink
        July 15, 2018 10:59 am

        Spot on!

    • Rowland P permalink
      July 15, 2018 11:34 am

      Was the climate any different when CO2 was at 350ppm or less?

      • bobn permalink
        July 15, 2018 4:13 pm

        Cart and Horse. While CO2 doesnt influence climate, climate does influence atmospheric CO2. As the sun warms the planet so the oceans warm and release CO2. Seawater at Oc will hold twice as much CO2 as water at 30c. You often see this effect with a bottle of still wine. Wine contains dissolved CO2 but is bottled usually at 10-15c. If you let your bottle warm and pull the cork at 25-30% you will often get a slight fizz as the CO2 escapes the liquid at this higher temp. Its also why if you open a warm bottle of sparkling wine it is far more likely to erupt and foam over than if you open the bottle when chilled. (Assuming you havent been a moron and shaken it up!)

  8. mikewaite permalink
    July 14, 2018 5:48 pm

    FES are running presentations according to the website and they list the presenters :

    -“Morning presentations which include the slides from the:

    Welcome by Roisin Quinn, Head of System Operator Strategy, National Grid
    Opening Address by Fintan Slye, Director of UK System Operator, National Grid
    FES 2018 Analysis by Marcus Stewart, Head of Energy Insights, National Grid
    Electric Dreams presentation by Baroness Worthington, UK Head of Environmental Defense
    Implications for UK Energy Strategy presentation by Gerald Davis, Executive Chair, Scenarios, World Energy Council

    Afternoon presentations which include the slides from the:

    Transport session by Alex Haffner, Energy Demand Manager, National Grid
    Electricity Supply and Demand session by Andrew Dobbie, Electricity Supply and Interconnectors Manager, National Grid
    Gas Supply and Heat session by Neil Rowley, Whole System and Gas Supply Manager, National Grid

    If you would like to access any of the FES 2017 presentations or live-stream recordings, please click on FES Archives”-

    Any names there that are familiar?
    I notice Baroness Worthington – author of the climate change act was she not?

    • dennisambler permalink
      July 15, 2018 11:04 am

      And now employed by a US major enviro group, Environmental Defense Fund:
      Executive Director, Europe

      “Bryony leads the European chapter of Environmental Defense Fund and is responsible for its management and development. She plays a critical role in the execution of our work program, which is currently focused on oceans, climate and energy.”

      The CEO of EDF is on the advisory committee of the Grantham Institutes, in turn the Grantham Institue is represented on the Climate Change Committee.

  9. Athelstan permalink
    July 14, 2018 11:11 pm

    it’s more like a lecture document file, a kid NGO advocate would send out to UK schools – yes, it really is that bad.

  10. Green Sand permalink
    July 15, 2018 8:26 am

    ‘Stop the smart meter roll-out: a million more substandard meters will be put in our homes – and it’s us who will pay ‘

    “The Government is being urged to halt the £11bn smart meter roll-out until the devices no longer discourage customers from switching energy supplier.

    Despite being championed in glossy promotional brochures and television advertisements as a way to save money, most meters of the type currently being widely installed in British homes lose their smart functions if the customer moves to another energy firm.

    The Government had set a final date beyond which these “inferior” meters could no longer be installed and a new, upgraded version, which should solve the problems, had to be adopted.

    But last week plans were announced to push this date back for a second time. This is despite Claire Perry, the Energy Minister, telling Parliament in March that there were no plans to extend the deadline.

    Analysis by Telegraph Money of industry data suggests that if the roll-out is not halted, almost 1.5 million more of the earlier, substandard meters could be forced on customers…….”

  11. TinyCO2 permalink
    July 15, 2018 12:16 pm

    I can’t decide what is most alarming about this – the lack of brains behind it or the knowledge that all departments are this thick. You could probably pay off the national debt if we kicked out all these time wasters.

    Why are they not learning from experience if nothing else? The cack handed roll out of the ‘smart’ meters should be a warning, as should the VW cheating scandal. Germany’s flat line emmission reduction and our own fudged figures should say loud and clear – reality is a lot harder than the sales pitch.

    A simple example – smart wet appliances – by which I assume they mean washing machines, dryers and dish washers and not something kinky. By 2031 30% of households will have them. Will they? Apart from the no no of having such equipment running while you sleep, what about keeping asleep while they decide to turn on at random points in the middle of the night? What about the neighbours in semis and terraces? What about the human attention those things tend to need after they’ve finished? Plates are musty and don’t dry if the door isn’t opened after the wash (solvable but they’ve not done it in the 40+ years I’ve been using them). Clothes generally need hanging up after being spun, to reduce wrinkles. Are people supposed to get up in the night? Or just wash at the weekends? In which case they don’t need smart appliances. Will the ‘smart’ be triggered by a timer or a signal? Such a system starts to need a lot more infrastructure. People would have to leave their networks on over night too? I know that some people are connecting to the hive but will 30% hand over autonomy to their power supplier? If the kid wets the bed, will the system let you overide the trigger? And if it does, will smart appliences be nothing more than a gimmick people don’t actually use?

    Another wacky idea is the car sharing concept. One example sees the family’s smart car give the driver and a neighbour a lift to work. There seems to be no reference to the poor bugger getting home. The report seems to recognise that the public might not want to car share but doesn’t ask why we don’t already do it. I could rattle off dozens of reasons without even thinking about it. The super plan would see our car trundle off to do all sorts of things on its own, racking up twice as much mileage (maybe killing someone) and ultimately halving the battery’s lifespan. Only extreme financial hardship would persuade us it was remotely a good idea. Something the government seems to be planning.

    Clearly they’ve thrown in ideas to make it look like they’ve been busy but I doubt that they’ve seriously thought about how consumers, businesses and even government adapts or doesn’t.

    • John Palmer permalink
      July 15, 2018 1:55 pm

      Quite so, Tiny…. but the b**gers know full and well that they won’t be in Office anytime remotely near when these cloud-cuckoo-land ideas fall flat. They’ll be enjoying their index linked pensions whilst another lot try (hopefully) to sort out the c**p. Even worse, some of them will get gongs too!
      You couldn’t make it up.

  12. Charlie Moncur permalink
    July 15, 2018 2:44 pm

    A statement and question needs to be presented to politician and our planner for the future. Statement “Science has confirmed that CO2 has minimal and practically unmeasurable effect on the temperature of the earth and is in fact good for the planet’s agriculture in increasing it to 1000 ppm”. Question “What impact has this finding on your plans for wind turbines, solar , EV’s and the host of other money wasting proposals in progress or planned for the future?” I would expect silence.

  13. jasg permalink
    July 16, 2018 2:39 pm

    Well we could balance the arithmetic by encouraging our pensioners to stay in Southern Europe for the Winter. By 2050 that’ll be around 40% of the population and much of them will have to choose between heating and eating if they stay in the UK anyway. Solves the NHS Winter crisis too 🙂

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