New reports forecast the local impact of a net zero future
The UK and Scottish Government’s respective 2050 and 2045 net zero targets will require extensive electrification in energy generation and the UK’s transport and heat sectors. The Climate Change Committee recent analysis suggests this shift could treble electricity demand on the UK’s electricity networks.
Electricity networks will have a critical role in accommodating a rapid increase in low carbon technologies to realise the UK’s net zero future. SSEN is investing to understanding and prepare for increased demand across both its distribution areas, and how this transition can be managed in a cost-effective manner for the communities it serves.
The new reports, undertaken by sustainable energy experts REGEN, use National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios as a framework to forecast four potential outcomes. In reaching net zero it is expected that in SSEN’s distribution areas alone:
- The number of EVs will increase from roughly 30,000 to over 5M.
- The number of heat pumps will increase from 32,000 to 2.47 M.
- An increase from 5GW in 2019 to 17.8GW of local renewables, with enough local renewable energy to power nearly 5.5 million homes every year by 2050 and solar panels alone powering up to 1 million home a year.
SSEN has published the reports on its website and will be sharing the findings with local authorities, regional stakeholders, and the UK and Scottish Governments to help inform and target investment decisions. SSEN is committed to working with the local communities it serves to help them realise their net zero goals.
These detailed reports forecast the net zero journey and the rapid increase in low carbon technologies that achieving net zero will entail within SSEN’s distribution areas between 2020 and 2050.
Andrew Roper, SSEN’s Distribution System Operation Director welcomed the reports:
“This report is a valuable tool in informing and supporting the communities we serve transition to net zero in a secure and cost-effective manner. This will mean a significant increase in EVs on the roads which will require charging infrastructure, heat pumps in our homes and small-scale renewables on our rooftops.
“Data sharing will be critical in the net zero journey. That’s why we have made this data publicly available and will continue to work alongside the households, businesses and communities we serve to deliver a fair, cost-effective and secure transition to a net zero future.”
Ray Arrell, REGEN’s Head of Technical Development led the team that developed the scenario analysis. He said:
“This report reflects the unprecedented rate of change within the UK electricity system. Already we have seen a massive shift in generation towards renewable energy technologies. This is set to continue and will further drive down the carbon intensity of electricity, which will in turn enable the decarbonisation of transport and heat with the rapid adoption of electric vehicles and heat pumps. Meanwhile new technologies such as battery storage and hydrogen electrolysis are moving from speculative project enquiries to on-the-ground deployment.
“The rate and level of change makes it challenging to predict future network requirements, especially down to a sub-regional and local level. However, with input from a wide range of stakeholders and industry partners, including the Scottish Government and local authorities, the DFES 2020 presents a range of credible scenario outcomes, backed by extensive research and data analysis.
“As we would expect, there is significant variation across the scenarios, which for the DFES 2020 includes three scenarios that adhere to net zero emission targets. However, as UK and regional leaders firm up on their commitment to achieve net zero, we are beginning to see a much clearer decarbonisation pathway.”