National Grid ESO increases electricity demand forecasts through to 2050

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has increased its forecasts for annual electricity demand for 2050 in each of its Future Energy Scenarios (FES), but maintained that reaching net-zero remains achievable and cost-effective.

National Grid ESO increases electricity demand forecasts through to 2050

Published since 2011, the FES report outlines four different pathways, each with varying methods of achieving a decarbonised energy system. These include:

  • Consumer Transformation
  • System Transformation
  • Leading the Way
  • Falling Short

While the underlying framework is the same as in previous years, the ESO for 2022 has decided to change the name of its Steady Progression scenario to Falling Short. This, it said, was due to the fact some stakeholders felt it was not sufficiently clear from the old name that this scenario did not meet the net-zero target.

Electricity demand

In its latest report published on Monday (18 July) the ESO updated its projections for future electricity demand under each of its scenarios.

FES electricity demand projections for 2050 by year

2021 2022
Electricity TWh 494 388 411 410 543 442 463 514

*name changed in 2022

It explained that compared to FES 2021, this year’s electricity peak and annual demands are “marginally lower” in the short term (out to 2030) as rising energy prices and slower economic growth impact demand.

However post 2030, peak demand in the System Transformation scenario rises at a similar rate to 2021’s results, but does not exceed last year’s peak demand until 2047 due to the lower starting point (i.e. lower peak demands through the 2020s).

For the other scenarios, electricity peak and annual demands from the early 2030s up to 2049 are higher than last years’ results.

The ESO said this reflects stakeholder feedback and policy announcements, specifically, increased fuel switching (both electrification and hydrogen which may be produced via electrolysis) in industrial and commercial sectors, due to the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy.

The increased electrification of HGVs will also be a major factor contributing toward increased demand.

Of all scenarios, Customer Transformation sees the most electrification and the peak demand for electricity increases rapidly from the late 2020s and then plateaus through the early 2040s before stabilising out to 2050.

In other scenarios electrification occurs more slowly and many sectors, particularly heat, experience lower levels of electrification.

Hydrogen update

The report shows that by 2050 hydrogen demand is lower for all scenarios in FES 2022 compared to the previous year, with a reduction in annual hydrogen demand of between 35 TWh to 53 TWh.

One of the key reasons behind this reduction is the fact that in the Consumer Transformation scenario hydrogen for residential heating has been removed, while hydrogen blending has been removed from Falling Short.

Additionally, there has been a reduction in hydrogen demand from road transport in both Consumer Transformation and Leading the Way due to the greater electrification of the HGV sector.

Speaking ahead of a panel session held to launch the 2022 FES report, Fintan Slye, executive director at the ESO, said: “We need to push forward with economy and system-wide solutions to help us invest in infrastructure across Britain, to harness our increasing renewable generation, keep pace with net zero ambitions and strengthen our energy security.”

He added: “But overall across all scenarios, our FES 2022 report shows that reaching net-zero will require a fundamental transformation of our energy system, and that there are many ways that we can get there.

“But we can do this, Britain’s Net Zero timetable is achievable if we work together. And at the ESO, we are committed to playing our part. Therefore, I would like to leave you with one clear message –  we must act now if we’re to make this transformation, if we’re to address climate change, and enable a future energy system that’s secure, clean and fair for all.”

Adam John

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title Utility Week

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Assuming the bulk of renewable generation will be wind and solar, how is it supposed that demand will be met on a still winter night???
    I remain unconvinced on renewable energy in as far involving it with the live grid supply and demand.
    For electrolysis, fine!
    But that’s just me.
    Richard Phillips

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