Paper sets out build rate to meet net zero target

The UK’s current build rate for power generation is less than half of what is required (43%) to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

On 7 September, Atkins published a paper, Race to Net Zero, in which it analysed the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)’s net zero scenario. It explored both the build rate and number of units required to meet the 2050 target, along with areas that urgently require government support. By 2050, it needs 6,520 offshore wind turbines, 48 natural gas units, 66 biomass facilities, and six nuclear power stations, along with 20GW of onshore wind, 80GW of solar and 15-30GW of energy storage.

It further noted that the future energy system will be heavily reliant on three industries in their infancy: carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen and energy storage. CCS is set to underpin the energy system, proving key to delivering 40% of the nation’s energy in 2050, while hydrogen has been forecast to provide 30%. In both cases, however, the paper warned the build rate is effectively zero, while storage plans are yet to be determined.

It called for urgent government investment to ensure the required build rate is achieved, adding that without government intervention, there will be no way to deliver large-scale CCS and hydrogen projects. It recommended the establishment of an Energy System Architect (ESA), responsible for planning and optimising the 2050 energy system, as well as evaluation the whole life cost.