The National Grid ESO recently published its Future Energy Scenarios for this year, presenting potential pathways to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. It emphasizes the crucial role of involving consumers and utilizing low-carbon technologies to reach this goal.
Here are a few recommendations:
Policy and delivery: To reduce uncertainty in key technologies like Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES), hydrogen and CO2 transport and storage, low carbon dispatchable power, and negative emissions technologies, the government should provide clear plans and funding. Accelerating the adoption of heat pumps and making decisive choices regarding large-scale hydrogen usage for heating are important. Additionally, robust emissions accounting standards and further demonstrations of negative emissions technologies are required.
Consumer and digitalization: Building trust with consumers and educating them about their role in the energy transition is essential. This could be achieved through an information campaign supported by a national advisory service. Innovation and smart digital solutions can empower consumers to benefit from energy savings without manual interventions. It is important to mandate smart capability in products, provide incentives and grants, and implement systems that enable consumer participation. Accelerated energy efficiency improvements in homes, extending beyond the private rented sector, should be pursued with the help of additional incentives and grants.
Markets and flexibility: Distributed flexibility, including storage, electric vehicles (EVs), heat pumps, and thermal storage at the distribution level, plays a vital role in achieving net-zero emissions. This necessitates a comprehensive market strategy, government targets, policy support, and market reforms. Encouraging smart EV charging and conducting trials of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) business models are crucial. Market reform is needed to provide real-time signals that optimize the use of flexible energy sources, resulting in cost savings and supporting decarbonization targets.
Infrastructure and the entire energy system: Strategic investments across the entire energy system are critical for achieving decarbonization targets and minimizing network limitations. Coordinated planning, engagement with various stakeholders, and planning system reforms are necessary. Reforms for faster, more coordinated, and more efficient connections to the electricity system are required to achieve net-zero emissions. Strategically locating large electricity demands, such as electrolyzers for hydrogen production, can provide flexibility and reduce network constraints. A well-defined strategy is needed for their optimal placement.
Industry experts emphasize the challenges and unanswered questions related to electrification, market design, hydrogen, and energy storage. They highlighted the importance of engaging consumers, incentivizing behavioral changes, and providing long-term clarity and certainty to facilitate the transition to net-zero emissions.