The grid operator’s annual Future Energy Trends report lays out four equally likely energy scenarios between now and 2050: Gone Green, Consumer Power, No Progression, and Slow Progression.

Only under the Gone Green scenario, which is characterized by long term green-policy certainty and moderate economic growth, does the UK meet its long term emissions targets.

This scenario also sees the UK becoming a net exporter of energy by mid 2030s, thanks to renewable energy supplying  30% of energy demand and 17.7 GW of interconnector capacity.

Likewise, heat pumps become the largest source of heat by 2050, and electric vehicles make an “increasingly important contribution” to the transport sector.

By contrast, under the worst-case No Progress scenario, just 11% of the UK’s energy comes from renewable by 2030.

That scenario is characterised by “inconsistent political statements and a lack of focus on environmental energy policies” – some of the things the new Conservative Government has been accused of by green groups recently.

However there were some causes for optimism across all four scenarios. For example, the amount of decentralised energy increased across the board, as did interconnector capacity.

Even the No Progress scenario saw 13 million smart meters deployed by 2025 and solar output matching coal by the mid 2030s.

Unique insight

Roisin Quinn, National Grid’s head of energy strategy and policy, said: “The energy industry is changing rapidly and at National Grid, we are right at the heart of that change. We haven’t got a crystal ball, but our scenarios offer a glimpse into the future, using our unique insight into the trends shaping the energy landscape.

“Over the past year we have worked with over 230 organisations and the feedback we received is vital to help us produce a range of clear and credible scenarios. Thanks to widespread stakeholder engagement and an array of expertise, we have been able to produce the most accessible and detailed FES report, that we hope the industry and others will find interesting and helpful.”

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie