Gas will be “critical” to the energy system for a long time to come, said National Grid director of UK system operator, Cordi O’Hara. Meanwhile, without policy intervention, it will still be heating homes for decades to come.
Speaking at the launch of its Future Energy Scenarios document, O’Hara nodded to the uncertainties and variables that feed into the System Operator’s long range planning. However, she said, there remains a “long term” role for gas to provide flexibility within an electricity system accommodating increasing penetration of renewables.
That message was echoed by head of energy insights, Marcus Stewart.
“Gas retains a significant role across all of our scenarios,” he said. “In a world of change and uncertainty, gas still remains an intrinsic part of the energy system, both today and tomorrow.”
The document outlines a wide range of scenarios for energy demand, penetration of different generation technologies, storage and electric vehicles.
Under all four projections, new gas plant is required in the next 15 years, though the document notes that economics, at least for large thermal plant, continue to be challenging.
Distributed generation also continues to grow across all scenarios, increasing market complexity but also “creating opportunity” according to Stewart, provided industry can adapt. He added that regulatory regimes must be fit for purpose “and not stifle innovation”.
“Whole system thinking and uptake of smart technologies” will be critical to maximising system and consumer value, he added.
Jan Mather, energy supply & demand manager, also outlined the need for increased incentives for consumers in terms of lower carbon heat.
“There will need to be policy intervention to move people away from gas boilers,” she said, “otherwise it won’t happen.”
Download the Future Energy Scenarios document here.