National Grid ESO unveils Future Energy Scenarios 2021


The electricity system operator for Great Britain describes what the future of energy may look like between now and 2050.

The Future Energy Scenarios (FES) outline four different pathways for the future of energy, with each one considering how much energy the nation might need and where it could come from.

According to National Grid ESO, the report can be used to inform network planning, investment decisions and government policy.

According to the authors, the overall scenarios remain consistent with those in FES 2020 but the details within them are new for 2021 following extensive modelling, research and stakeholder engagement.

Two scenarios – Leading the Way and Consumer Transformation – see Britain reduce its emissions by 2035 by the 78% (from 1990 levels) committed to in the recent sixth Carbon Budget.

However, National Grid ESO’s analysis also highlights the level of societal change and policy direction that will be needed to meet these targets.

Key messages of the report include:

  • Achieving net zero requires detailed policies and clear accountabilities, coupled with an immediate and sustained focus on delivery, to maintain the momentum provided by the Energy White Paper.
  • FES sets out different routes to net zero to accommodate uncertainty, but according to authors, important policy decisions must be made on:
    • Relative roles of electrification and hydrogen for residential heating
    • Level of support for energy efficiency measures
    • Timings for transitioning away from unabated gas
    • Extent to which natural gas is used in hydrogen production
  • ‘Holistic energy market reform’ is needed to drive the investment and behaviour changes needed to deliver net zero and ensure security of supply at a fair and reasonable cost for all consumers.
  • Since the first COVID-19 lockdown, average daily electricity demand has reduced by around 5-10% compared to normal levels (as much as 18% at times during summer 2020). Reasons include less travel, reduced economic activity due to social restrictions and people spending more time at home rather than their normal place of work.
  • National Grid ESO analysis suggests long-term impact is likely to be small. They will continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions and build understanding into FES 2022.

The FES 2021-report can be downloaded from the National Grid ESO-website.