New CCC Report on Energy

Reliable zero-carbon electricity by 2035

The UK can build a reliable, secure and cost effective electricity system that is decarbonised by 2035, says the government’s advisory Climate Change Committee (CCC).  The report answers to the question: “What about when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine?”

The CCC’s new report is based on new hour-by-hour modelling of the country’s electricity system out to 2035, which includes stress-tests of how it could ride out extended “wind droughts”.

Published 9 March 2023    Read here

The CCC sees cheap – but variable – wind and solar meeting 70% of demand. While nuclear and biomass might meet another 20%, they are “relatively inflexible”. Therefore, the final 10% is key. This 10% will largely come from “flexible low-carbon” solutions, such as batteries, compressed air storage and responsive demand. Crucially, however, gaps lasting days to weeks at a time will be filled by gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and/or hydrogen power.

As an additional source of security, the committee endorses a small remaining role for unabated gas power in 2035. This would meet “up to around 2%” of annual demand, down from 40% today. The importance of hydrogen is clear, given nearly one-quarter of the report is given over to its role. However, the committee stresses the risks of medium-term scarcity in hydrogen supply, which would be even larger if the government prioritises using hydrogen to heat homes.

Overall, the CCC says the flexible, secure and decarbonised electricity grid of 2035 is “within sight”, but only with “urgent reform”. Its 25 recommendations for government include easing the planning and regulatory regimes, so that energy infrastructure can be built at the speed necessary.What will power the UK’s electricity system in 2035The UK government is aiming to “fully decarbonise” Great Britain’s electricity system by 2035.  Today’s report stresses how important it will be to meet the 2035 target. It says this will be “the central requirement for achieving netzero [by 2050]”. Moreover, it says that “reliable, resilient and plentiful decarbonised electricity – at an affordable price to consumers…is within sight”.

Yet “the government has not yet provided a coherent strategy to achieve its goal”, the CCC says. The report adds that “our increasingly electrified society…must have resilience embedded throughout”.

The report sets out what a decarbonised electricity system might look like in 2035, how it would maintain security of supply, and what would be needed to bring it about. The starting point for the analysis is that electricity demand will rise to 50% above pre-Covid levels by 2035 and 100% by 2050, as shown in the figure below. Buildings (red), transport (purple) and industry (orange) will increasingly run on electricity, rather than fossil fuels.

Powering Hope Valley 

HVCA’s Energy Feasibility Study tested different scenarios and calculated that by 2050 in Hope Valley domestic demand will rise from 23 to 60 GWh. That means we will need two to three times as much electricity.

 

A sensible mix of wind and solar, for example solar panels on 1 in 3 residential roofs, 2 large solar arrays and 3-5 large wind turbines, would deliver the 2050 domestic base load in the Valley. If sensitively sited, this would not be destructive of the environment we cherish. Because of inadequacies in the grid infrastructure,  we would need to reinforce the grid and to provide storage to cope with fluctuations in demand and supply.

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