FES 2023–The Emperor Still Has No Clothes!



by Paul Homewood at wattsupwiththat.com

This year’s National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios has been released, and as before fails to address the real problems facing the pursuit of Net Zero.

As usual, there are four scenarios. The most optimistic is called Leading The Way, which has as much chance of being achieved as England winning the next World Cup. The most realistic is Falling Short, which only cuts emissions by about half come 2050.

But I’ll concentrate on the other two:

As before, I will focus on 2035, as nobody can predict what will happen in 30 years time.

Consumer Transformation looks a highly unlikely outcome. It assumes, for instance, that there will be 12 million heat pumps installed by 2035; there is simply no prospect of this unless the gas boiler ban takes effect a decade earlier. It is also unlikely that consumers will drastically alter their habits in terms of demand side response, or be willing to spend thousands on insulation.

System Transformation is slightly more realistic, but not much! This assumes 3 million heat pumps by 2035, but with an annual rollout of about 160,000 as soon as 2025, again extremely implausible. Because of this slow take up of heat pumps, the scenario assumes most heating will use hydrogen boilers, which in turn raises a separate question – where will this hydrogen come from? The FES answer is mainly from steam reforming natural gas, in theory using CCUS.

And in turn, this raises two more issues:

1) Steam reforming uses much more natural gas than you would use if you burnt it in the first place. It is therefore extremely expensive and inefficient.

2) Even with CCUS, there are still some emissions, as the process cannot capture all of the carbon dioxide, only about two-thirds.

Under ST, we will still be consuming 581 TWh of natural gas in 2035, compared to 986 TWh currently. This clearly makes a nonsense of the Labour Party’s plan to stop all new North Sea exploration.

But now we come to the crucial question of what our power system will look like in 2035. Below are the capacity assumptions in FES:

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