Future Energy Scenarios: Electric Cars Can Actively Support Decarbonisation

           Carbon and Climate

National Grid has published Future Energy Scenarios 2018, which shows a range of credible energy pathways from today out to 2050. The purpose of the pathways is to inform decision-making by the government and other stakeholders by considering how much energy we need and how it could be provided. The National Grid must be prepared for different outcomes as the energy system continues to transform.  

Factors that have dominated this year’s update include environmental policy, a dramatic growth in local generation, and the development of new technologies. The report presents four scenarios, which are based on views collected from a wide range of stakeholders. Each position results in a different level of progress in both decarbonisation and decentralisation. For example, the “Consumer Evolution Scenario” assumes a high level of decentralisation but a slower progression towards decarbonisation. In contrast, the “two degrees” scenario has a higher speed of decarbonisation but a lower level of decentralisation. Under this scenario, the 2050 carbon targets are met though electricity being provided by offshore wind, nuclear, large scale storage, and interconnectors. In addition, most cars are electric vehicles by 2033.

One of the key messages of the report is that the growth in the use of electric vehicles will mean that smart charging and vehicle-to-grid (where energy stored in electric vehicles is fed back to the grid) can actively support the decarbonisation of electricity. The balancing of demand and supply is predicted to become increasingly complex, thereby placing increasing importance on the collection of accurate data.

Under all scenarios, gas is predicted to play a role for the foreseeable future to provide reliable and flexible energy supplies. Low-carbon gas will be utilised and could make up to 39% of total GB gas demand in 2050. The roll-out of hydrogen and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) will also be essential, emphasising the need for investment in demonstration projects.

At present, the National Grid’s analysis assumes continued market harmonisation between GB and Europe once the UK has left the European Union. If any changes occur to this, the impact on the scenarios will then be assessed.

More detail on the Future Energy Scenarios can be found here, together with details of webinars and workshops.

Nikki Wilson

Nikki joined Alfa Energy in September 2015 as a Carbon Management Consultant where she advises clients on legislation, compliance, and the implementation of carbon management schemes. She is a Practitioner member of IEMA, has a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Decision Making, and has over 15 years’ experience in energy consultancy.