“Direct changes to consumer behaviour” to be instigated by the Johnson administration are “pivotal” to Britain reaching Net Zero by 2050, the National Grid-ESO states bluntly today.
Its “Future Energy Scenarios” report outlines four differing visions of a carbon-purged power market by mid-century. Two envisage meeting by 2035 the target of 78% cuts on 1990 CO2e levels, as set out in the Climate Change Committee’s sixth carbon budget.
One of that successful pair dictates 600,0000 heat pumps must installed in homes each year for decades, reaching 25 million by 2050. In 2020, fewer than 40,000 such pumps were fitted, Labour MP Clive Betts reminded Johnson to his face last week. Betts chairs Parliament’s housing committee.
Such mass roll-out cannot be contemplated without a comprehensive policy from government to address heat in Britain’s buildings, the ESO’s FES report stresses.
Under ‘Leading the Way’, the most ambitious of the four pathways, households would dial down thermostats by 1 degree, trimming 13% from national heat demand. A further 30% efficiency gain by homes could be achieved by switching to LED bulbs and programmable, connected home appliances.
“What got us here, won’t get us to Net Zero”
Power generation already leads heating and transport in ousting fossil fuels. Electricity sourced from unabated gas-disappears by 2035, under the same FES scenario. None of the report’s three Net Zero-achieving scenarios see any fossil fuel in power beyond 2034.
National Grid ESO recently announced that it was on track to run the grid zero carbon for periods by 2025, a key milestone in reaching a decarbonised electricity grid by 2035.
Hydrogen is marked out as essential to every alternative Net Zero future. Injecting flexibility into power generation, its ubiquity and applicability to existing pipework, green versions of the gas can drive hybrid heat pumps and boilers.
Matthew Wright, the Grid ESO’s head of strategy and regulation was clear: “Government policy will be key to driving awareness and change”.
“If Britain is to meet its ambitious emissions reduction targets, consumers will need a greater understanding of how their power use and their lifestyle choices impact how sustainable our energy system will be – from how we heat our homes, to when we charge our future cars..
“Britain is making significant progress towards achieving net zero. The fundamental changes outlined in our latest FES insight show just how important a coordinated approach will be between policymakers and industry if we’re to capitalise on that momentum.”