The UK’s legal commitment to zero emissions by 2050 requires substantial growth in renewable electricity generation, but rapidly expanding demand is still likely to exceed supply.
Government policy to date has been heavily weighted towards the supply of zero emissions energy, but we won’t have as much of it as we want. What this report celebrates is the huge and largely un-noticed opportunity for business growth in delivering the products and services of energy saving.Professor Julian Allwood
As the government launches its Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) focusing on electricity supply, UK FIRES have published a new report detailing the even greater scale of opportunity for energy sector innovation on the demand side.
Where new installation of renewable supply is expected to be worth up to £23bn per year, demand side innovation could be worth nearly ten times more, up to £200bn per year, through a combination of new approaches to delivering energy efficiency, electrification of existing fossil-fueled equipment, innovations that support time-shifting demand and decommissioning old assets.
Professor Julian Allwood says “The government’s targets to deliver zero emissions are excellent, and essential if we’re to avoid the catastrophic consequences of this week’s temperature increases becoming normal. Government policy to date has been heavily weighted towards the supply of zero emissions energy, but we won’t have as much of it as we want. What this report celebrates is the huge and largely un-noticed opportunity for business growth in delivering the products and services of energy saving.”
The UK FIRES report, which builds on the ground-breaking Absolute Zero analysis of realistic pathways to zero emissions in the UK by 2050, demonstrates just how much business growth is possible as we focus national efforts on reducing energy demand to meet anticipated emissions-free supply.
Since 2010, the UK’s non-emitting electricity supply has doubled, and with current commitments, the same linear rate of expansion is likely to continue to 2030 and beyond. This growth will be sufficient to replace all today’s gas-powered generation, but will not be enough to meet future demand. As transport, space-heating and industrial processes are electrified, demand for emissions-free electricity will soon outstrip supply, and by 2050 we will have around 60% of what we would otherwise want.
This new report reveals four substantial business growth opportunities created by this likely shortage.
UK Fires is a collaboration between the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Bath and Imperial College London funded by EPSRC.