The UK power sector can reach negative emissions as early as 2033 by combining carbon capture storage (CCS), bioenergy and renewables, according to National Grid ESO.
On 27 July, it published its 2020 Future Energy Scenarios, setting out that the UK can achieve net zero by 2050 but doing so requires “immediate action” across all key technologies and policy areas. It would call for at least 40GW of new capacity being connected to the electricity system in the next 10 years, while net emissions from the power sector turn negative by 2033 in the net zero scenarios modelled.
Hydrogen and CCS must be deployed for net zero, with the ESO stressing industrial scale demonstration projects need to be operational this decade. Hydrogen will provide between 21% and 59% of 2050 net zero end-user energy needs. CCUS and methane reformed hydrogen infrastructure was found to develop in industrial clusters by 2030 in all net zero scenarios, while CCUS paired with bioenergy can generate up to 62MtCO2e of negative emissions by 2050 and is also key for production of low carbon hydrogen from natural gas.
It further stressed markets must evolve to provide incentives for investment in flexibility and zero carbon generation. At least 3GW of wind and 1.4GW of solar have to be built every year from now until 2050, while vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services could provide up to 38GW of flexibility from 5.5mn vehicles. Open data and digitalisation, meanwhile, will underpin the whole system thinking required to reach net zero with the report citing it as key to navigating increasing complexity at lowest cost for consumers.