Cornwall Insight comments on National Grid’s 2020 Future Energy Scenarios


Commenting on the National Grid’s 2020 Future Energy Scenarios (FES) predictions, James Brabben, wholesale manager at Cornwall Insight, said: “The latest FES’ highlight just how dramatically the energy landscape will change in the coming decades. It is clear that existing and new technologies can be deployed to achieve net zero by 2050, with three of the four scenarios showing pathways to accomplish this.

“More so than [in] previous years, FES 2020 strikes a more confident tone on the practicalities of achieving carbon reductions. A ramp-up in wind and solar deployment, large-scale hydrogen and CCUS [carbon capture, use and storage] build-out and the digitalization and transparent use of customer data is prevalent across scenarios. Hydrogen is, for the first time, seen as a front-running technology for heating use, some transport sectors and electricity system flexibility.

“While hydrogen forecasts may grab the headlines, the stretching targets for wind and solar deployment and a negative emissions power sector by the early 2030s are also notable components. There is an important subtext in the document about the need to reform and evolve the markets themselves, with a message that ‘markets must evolve to provide the right incentives.’

“We have advocated for some time that wholesale market design needs to be looked at to support investments when there is a growing share of the future fleet taken up by zero-marginal-cost generation. If anything, this year’s FES serves to re-emphasize the challenge between the need to build lots of low-carbon infrastructure and the ability of [the] current market design to provide the investment signals to make that happen. Outside of the CfD [Contracts for Difference renewables incentive] scheme, this challenge is yet to be adequately addressed but needs to be if we are to achieve these types of net-zero-compliant scenarios.”