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Future Energy Scenarios 2019

September 12, 2019

By Paul Homewood



I have sat on it for a while, but still want to focus on the National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenarios.

As always, there are four scenarios, but I will concentrate on the “Two Degrees” one, which looks to be the central assumption, designed to achieve an 80% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050.

(There is a small section on the Net Zero plan, but this came along too late to incorporate into the FES main body).

In the FES, there is the usual nonsense about large scale hydrogen production, (requiring carbon storage), heat pumps, EVs and renewables.

But there are really just two tables which show how fanciful the whole thing is.


The first shows electricity peak demand rising to 83 GW by 2050:


The second lists the planned generation capacity:



Excluding intermittent wind and solar, we are left with:

Interconnectors 20.055
CCUS 12.1
Nuclear 16.606
Thermal 13.371
Other renewables 13.065
Storage 22.512
Total Dispatchable 97.709
Peak demand 82.512


If we allow 85% for de-rating (as plant is not available 24/7), the 97.7 GW comes down to 83 GW.

Storage is only good for an hour or so, which may be enough to cover early evening peaks, but take that out and we are left with about 60 GW. Worse still, we are reliant on imports via interconnectors for a third of that.

I have analysed the distribution of electricity demand during January 2019, using the official BMRS data based on half hour settlements.

Demand peaked at 48.6 GW and averaged 37 GW.

However, demand was within 10% of the peak demand (ie 43.7 GW or more for 355 half hour periods, that is 24% of the time.



Quite clearly battery storage cannot supply power for six hours a day. Indeed, a couple of hours a day is the most we could rely on.

If we plug in that two hours a day, ie 8% of the time, the threshold rises from 43.7 GW to 45.9 GW. In other words, we need enough proper dispatchable capacity to cover 95% of peak demand. (45.9/48.6).

Translating that to the 2050 projection of 82.5 GW, we would need dispatchable capacity of 79 GW.

It is rather frightening that the National Grid thinks we can meet that demand with just 55 GW of domestic capacity, even before allowing for de-rating.

  1. Paul Reynolds permalink
    September 12, 2019 8:38 pm

    It’s all cloud cuckoo thinking in cloud cuckoo land. It beggars belief that our energy planning is in the hands of such total incompetents. But the late great Booker had flagged up this fantasy years ago.

    • Keith permalink
      September 13, 2019 12:15 pm

      Well it is to be expected, it is probably full of rabid greens who will be unable to apply any balanced thinking.

  2. JimW permalink
    September 12, 2019 8:49 pm

    Paul , there only two possibilities
    1) Grid are putting this together because its what they know their ‘masters’ want to see, they know its not possible, feasible, so they expect ‘something to happen’ to stop the expectation. In the meantime they want to keep their overpaid jobs.
    2) they actually believe its possible, in which case we should all plan to emigrate asap!
    I tend to think there are probably still enough sane engineers at Grid to make option 1 the favourite ( I hope I’m right).
    Their risk/reward balance is how much flack do they take when black outs/brown outs occur before the politicians finally allow them to change tack. How many jobs/reputations etc suffer on the way?
    If I’m wrong, the UK is royally f*cked!!

    • September 12, 2019 10:01 pm

      Don’t forget, most of the ones in charge will have left long before the denouement.

      Just think about Steve Holliday, ex CEO of the Grid, who has moved on to another well paid job, with a nice fat pension fund behind him

      • JimW permalink
        September 13, 2019 10:17 am

        Of course by following ‘interconnect the world’ , they massively increase their asset base which leads inevitably to bigger salaries and bonuses to the ‘executive’. The same effect with new transmission networks to all those windmills located far away from demand centres.
        Good game to get rich, and as you say, if they time it right they will be gone with the loot before the SHTF.
        And if someone ‘forces’ them to spin off the guys who actually try to make it work on a second by second basis, then well ‘its not my problem’.

  3. Jack Broughton permalink
    September 12, 2019 8:49 pm

    Most National Grid publications are full of gobbledegook and written by nerds for nerds.
    This enables them to hide all bad news and faults in a volume of unintelligible self-congratulatory prose.

  4. September 12, 2019 10:17 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  5. Dibnah permalink
    September 12, 2019 10:18 pm

    What happens if we run out of gas during a cool spell? Beast from East 2018, the UK had about four days of gas remaining at one point.

  6. September 12, 2019 10:22 pm

    And the UK used to be such a pragmatic, sensible country…… The prime criterion for any advanced country to prosper is inexpensive power. Renewables put paid to that centuries long conditon in UK. Sad.

    • September 12, 2019 10:37 pm

      The government’s policy is for a sort of three-legged energy system. Energy must be cheap, reliable, and “low carbon”.

      Unsurprisingly the third leg kinda kills the first two. The end result is expensive, unreliable, and “low carbon” energy.

  7. roger permalink
    September 12, 2019 10:24 pm

    We will rely on interconnectors from Europe?
    Europe will be in trouble too and when that coincides we would do well to remember that Europe has taught us over three long years that it is not and never has been our friend.
    Whether we have escaped through brexit or have been betrayed by parliament the result will be the same.
    We have centuries of history correcting the obscene continental aggression of that so called union between it’s members which can still be seen in operation today.
    They hate us and the feeling is mutual.

    • September 12, 2019 10:45 pm

      Not just any old interconnectors. +20 GW of interconnectors. I wonder if other countries are slyly pencilling in +20 GW under the interconnector entry, & all hoping to drain power from whatever sensible country remains one tea time in a distant February.

      Meanwhile, the scenario has 40 GW of solar, which you might as well score through and write down a big fat “0”.

      Sad times.

  8. MrGrimNasty permalink
    September 12, 2019 10:26 pm

    The last crop of smart meter TV ads. mentioned electricity demand would double by 2050.

    ITV Meridian local news is doing climate junk reports this week. They had a climate ‘expert’ on – asked her how energy would be decarbonized, standard response – solar and wind are getting cheaper and cheaper – sigh! Some expert.

    BBC: World ‘losing battle against deforestation’

    Is it any wonder when we are chopping trees down to burn for electricity, clearing forests for bio-fuel, clearing forests for windmills and their transmission lines, and allowing China to dominate the rare earths supply chain required for solar/battery/windmills, which they are doing in Africa and the Amazon etc. by building roads deep into nowhere to exploit the resources, and then the illegal loggers are using those roads for easy access.

    It is the environmental policies of the UN that are destroying the environment – as always.

  9. Joe Public permalink
    September 12, 2019 11:29 pm

    Interconnectors, like tracer bullets, work both ways.

    It’ll be a brave Minister who signs off that we’ll have to depend upon them, only to find during long lulls when we need to import ‘leccy, the rest of Europe suffers the same lulls at the same time, and they expect us to bail them out.

    Particularly the French who giving fabricators crash courses in welding to keep their nukes running.

  10. September 12, 2019 11:40 pm

    Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  11. Athelstan. permalink
    September 13, 2019 1:56 am


    “If we plug in that two hours a day, ie 8% of the time, the threshold rises from 43.7 GW to 45.9 GW. In other words, we need enough proper dispatchable capacity to cover 95% of peak demand. (45.9/48.6).”

    Your figures based on winter Jan 2019, I could be wrong here (probably am) but if memory serves, in times of colder winters than 2019, doesn’t peak demand rise to circa well north of 50 GW?

    Finally, onemore observation. on ‘future energy scenarios’,

    Strewth, it seems to me that, our future energy scenario is like that of energy provision in, say the Central African Republic – ie right down and almost next to zero.

    I don’t know why they bother with all the glossy facade ‘brochure’ done in all yellow, Yellow? surely the future will be matt, very black indeed and all lights extinguished, “extinction” they call it now, don’t they?

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      September 13, 2019 8:28 am

      Daddy, what did we use for light before candles?
      Electricity, son……

      • Athelstan. permalink
        September 13, 2019 1:35 pm

        yeah, something like that, dear Lord!

  12. September 13, 2019 5:51 am

    The madness is beyond belief

    The grid failures started on a breezy summer afternoon 9/87/2019

    In the light of that I revised the advice I gave to Dieter Helm (unacknowledged) in 2017

    Don’t they have engineers in government any more

    • Dibnah permalink
      September 13, 2019 6:56 am

      Engineers have had no meaningful influence in government for many years, hence the high level of incompetence in many issues.

    • September 13, 2019 10:41 am

      Our ‘leaders’ don’t need no stinking facts it seems :/

  13. Steve permalink
    September 13, 2019 6:07 am

    The proportion of wind and solar appears from the chart to be as high or higher than the CCC technical report, which estimates peak demand at 150GW (p.29) The proportion is given as 59%. Either way, the reserve generation needed for a week or more of zero wind and solar midwinter is clearly insufficient and there is no way that storage will be possible for that period. It is worrying that green loon accounting seems to have invaded the company entrusted with the energy security of the UK.

  14. Hugh Sharman permalink
    September 13, 2019 8:13 am

    With regard to the security of future UK electricity supply by way of inter-connectors, Germany remains committed to closing 8 GW of nukes 3 years from now on the somewhat dubious grounds that after Fukishima, tsunamis could somehow overwhelm Bavaria!

    During the last week, EdF is in dead trouble with its existing nukes in France ( while here on home turf EdF may well need to decommission UK’s remaining gas-cooled reactors early because of wear and tear and unacceptable cracks forming in their graphite shields.

    • Athelstan. permalink
      September 13, 2019 1:38 pm

      all going from threadbare to non existent,

      the good news, unlike UK electricity – it never stops flowing.

  15. September 13, 2019 9:52 am


    Incoming solar loves dark stuff like forests. Clever Gaia self-regulated by turning the hottest areas with the most insolation into deserts, which are highly reflective of SWR.

    A stand of mature forest sequesters not much carbon. Young forests being grown for timber and paper lap it up like crazy. For that matter, a field of lettuce also eats up carbon and does it several times a year, possibly approaching the annual sequestration tonnage per hectare of young forests. Changes in land use for anthropogenic purposes like farming appear to be a Very Good Thing for carbon sequestration. (Cue wails of cognitive dissonance from climate hysterics.)

  16. GeoffB permalink
    September 13, 2019 10:04 am

    National Grid should just come clean……As wind and solar power are unpredictable, we cannot guarantee a stable system of electricity supply. This will mean rolling blackouts, particularly in winter. (and in the summer when we do not get the balance right). This should not impinge on our profitability. as we will use the smart meter system to charge an exorbitant price to avoid blackouts. A lot of people will die of the cold, but they will be poor people and the world will be a better place without them.
    P.S We will also meet our CO2 reduction targets….Good news for everyone.

    Sir Peter Gershon Chairman John Pettigrew Chief Executive

    • Athelstan. permalink
      September 13, 2019 1:39 pm

      Honest and true.

      somehow I don’t think they will (come clean) – will they?

  17. It doesn't add up... permalink
    September 13, 2019 12:09 pm

    To judge from the level of cover up and deflection from key issues in the final technical report on the August 9th blackout, heads in the sand seems to be the priority. Reposted from the Wattlogic blog, here are my initial observations.

    I finally got around to reading National Grid’s technical report and appendices. Of course the real nitty gritty is hidden in the latter. I think Oersted have been rather economical in their explanation of how the wind farm shut down in a tenth of a second. The Grid have gone overboard in stressing that the transmission network performed properly, while brushing over several issues. It seems that despite the recommendations from the 2008 event, fault protection ride through remains inadequate on far too much embedded generation. They fail to acknowledge that a 1GW loss becomes a 1.5GW loss if embedded generation shuts down all too easily. The Grid seem very keen to avoid the inertia question, by pretending that inertia would be very costly to provide: doubtless it is if you limit yourself to rarely used battery capacity to provide synthetic inertia. I also noted that they threatened to move LFDD to areas where there was little embedded generation, so as not to lose the generation. More power cuts for London can only be a good thing to concentrate minds! Allowing Hornsea to produce at 100% of available capacity before it had run the 100% proving programme looks to have been another faux pas which might have sniffed out the technical problem that lay behind its shutdown, and by limiting them to the 70% level they had already passed, would have been enough to prevent the blackout trips.

    Read with a very critical eye, and a view to what they want to cover up. The same will apply to OFGEM and the E3C reports, and the Select Committee.

    • Dibnah permalink
      September 14, 2019 6:56 am

      No mention in the National Grid report re: rate of change of frequency leading up to the power cuts on August 9th.

  18. Michael Adams permalink
    September 13, 2019 4:00 pm

    “Quite clearly battery storage cannot supply power for six hours a day.”

    Not quite true as Vanadium flow batteries can store and release as much as you like in theory. Vanadium electrolyte can store the energy and the release time is only dependant on how fast you want to release the stored energy and how mush electrolyte you have. You can build the batteries as big as you like. They work well and don’t degrade unlike lithium. Now for the downside. To cover the needs of the UK you would need more vanadium than is being mined worldwide presently and, although vanadium is fairly common, the chances of mining enough vanadium just for the UK are virtually nil. Vanadium is used in steel making as well so there is competition for the resource which wouldn’t help. I couldn’t estimate how big these batteries would need to be nor how many you would need but the they would take up an enormous amount of space. Ideal for fairly small scale projects ,10-100 MW, not really practical for what would be needed.

    So you are right that battery storage is not an answer in the real world but who’s talking about the real world.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      September 13, 2019 8:53 pm

      There’s a very informative article on vanadium here:

      It suggests that you need 5,500 tonnes of metal per GWh of storage, so if we built a 30TWh store for inter seasonal and inter year storage, we would need 165 million tonnes of vanadium

      Vanadium prices reached $127/kg, or 127,000/tonne in 2018, so that would perhaps set a floor for the cost – some $20,955bn, just for the vanadium, and double that for the whole battery systems. Plus the main producers are China (57%) and Russia (18%) – and annual global production is just 96,000 tonnes. It’s never going to fly.

  19. Colin Megson permalink
    September 13, 2019 4:33 pm

    There’s the real world and then the world of ‘Energy Professionals/Experts’ working for the National Grid.

    Looking just at that TD Solar capacity of 42.016 GW, which will have the average UK capacity factor of 11.1%, it’s possible to work out a few pertinent facts. Basing it on 350 MW Cleve Hill Solar Park, costing £400 million, with 989,000 solar panels [2m x 1m x 0.02m] and occupying 3.65 km^2, this is what is being proposed:

    120 Cleve Hill-sized solar parks generating 40,839,120 TWh of intermittent electricity each year for a 30 year lifespan. Cost £48 billion; comprising 118,680,000 solar panels with a volume of 5,934,000 m^3 [10 Wembley football pitches piled to a height of 273 feet]; covering 438 km^2.

    To generate the same number of TWh each year – in the 24/7, low-carbon form – would require 5.152 GW of installed capacity of nuclear power plant [npp] with a capacity factor of 90% and a design life of 60 years. Based on Sizewell C at £16 billion for 3.2 GW, that would cost £25.9 billion, compared to the £96 billion for building those 120 solar parks a 2nd time to generate for 60 years.

    • Michael Adams permalink
      September 13, 2019 5:39 pm

      We are only talking about the UK here. Imagine the scaling up of rare metals needed for a roll out worldwide. The thing is about rare metals is that they are rare and the Chinese are gobbling them up at a prodigious rate. I suppose the fantasy will end one day along with Brexit. I’m glad I’m 73 so, even if this circus carries on, I won’t be aware of it in a few years.

  20. Michael Adams permalink
    September 13, 2019 5:45 pm

    For once the BBC has come up with something worth reading.

    I was unaware of this greenhouse gas. I’m sure that Paul will have a comment to make later.

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      September 13, 2019 7:23 pm

      Can I jump in first, Michael? I agree it’s interesting, but…

      I read this in Wikipedia, for want of the energy to look for a more erudite source:

      ‘… used to fill Nike Air bags in all of their shoes from 1992-2006’ which amused me for some reason.

      ‘SF6 is used to provide a tamponade or plug of a retinal hole in retinal detachment repair operations[15] in the form of a gas bubble. It is inert in the vitreous chamber[16] and initially doubles its volume in 36 hours before being absorbed in the blood in 10–14 days’

      Ermm – it dissolves in blood relatively quickly but ‘has an estimated atmospheric lifetime of 800–3200 years’? I can’t think of a huge body of salty liquid that it might dissolve in however slightly. (‘Solubility in water – 0.003% (25 °C)

      But I think the killer is Mauna Loa observatory:

      Yes, that’s 7.5 parts per trillion (but, yes we shouldn’t throw our crap out of the window, so it’s bad)

      ‘Given the small amounts of SF6 released compared to carbon dioxide, its overall contribution to global warming is estimated to be less than 0.2 percent.’

      Move along, move along…

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      September 13, 2019 10:33 pm

      Sounds like another worry about nearly nothing, but yet again, it is the current energy policy madness causing an unintended consequence.

      It also annoys me that I remember being taught that the symbol for Fluorine was Fl, and they changed it definitively to F without telling me!

  21. Colin Megson permalink
    September 13, 2019 8:39 pm

    Well, I’m 81 on Sunday and still trying to talk to brick walls. Must have emailed 50 politicians and anti-nuclear individuals with a pdf version of this blog post I recently put out – not a single reply from any of them:

    Another brick wall – here I come!

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      September 13, 2019 8:54 pm

      Colin – congratulations for Sunday, and may you enjoy many more. I’ve read your blog for a while now – makes perfect sense to this 62 year old.

  22. Michael Adams permalink
    September 13, 2019 10:18 pm

    Are we all village elders? I’m not as sharp as I used to be but I like to think I know a con man when I see one. Happy birthday Colin.

  23. Ivan permalink
    September 16, 2019 6:01 pm

    What this report really does is show the gulf between the kind of rather drastic things you’d have to do, broadly speaking, to get to 80% (or 100%) decarb by 2050, and what is actually happening. Yes, we can all pick holes in the details, but I don’t think that is the point.

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