Just published is a substantial report on future UK energy strategies. The main conclusion is that ALL of the UK’s energy needs (not just electricity) CAN be met with renewable energy sources such as wind power, solar power (PV), hydroelectric, wave power, and geothermal sources by 2050.

The report was commissioned by the UK group 100percentrenewableuk –  which is pressing for all our energy needs (not just electricity) to be supplied by renewables, ie excluding nuclear and fossil fuels. The year-long study was completed by one of the world’s foremost energy forecasters at the LUT University in Finland.

The study reveals that a 100% renewable energy (RE) scenario will save over £100 billion in achieving net zero by 2050 when compared to the UK Government’s strategy which includes nuclear power and fossil fuels.

Key points are:
• A 100 % RE scenario will achieve net zero by 2050 and with 20% fewer cumulative carbon emissions compared to the UK Government’s pathway.

• The preferred scenario is via mainly offshore wind with large amounts of inter-annual energy storage to cope with fluctuations in wind power outputs within and between years.

• The more onshore wind power and solar photovoltaics are used, the cheaper the path to net zero.

• The same assumptions for demand for energy services are used in all scenarios, and from this we can conclude that the 100% renewable energy scenarios are superior in achieving these services at lower cost and at lower systemic risk compared to the Government nuclear and fossil fuel plans.

The report compared four energy scenarios for the UK:
• The Best Policy Scenario (BPS) aimed for 100% renewable energy in 2050, with offshore wind as the main resource, limiting onshore wind and solar photovoltaics according to available land area.

• The Inter-Annual Storage scenario (IAS) follows the BPS trajectory but includes the storage needed to tide the UK over in years of low wind yield.

• BPSplus tested the limits of higher land area availability for onshore wind and photovoltaics, and included renewable-based fuel imports.

• The Current Policy Scenario (CPS) adopted the UK Government’s present plans for net zero.

Jonathon Porritt, co-founder of Forum for the Future, said: “Here in the UK we have an amazing opportunity to do our bit – by meeting all our energy needs from renewables and storage by 2050. If you’re sceptical about the feasibility of that ambition level, then dig deep into this report and see your hope rekindled.”

Dr David Toke, Director of 100percentrenewableuk, said: “The implications of this report are huge. All public and enforced consumer spending on new nuclear power and carbon capture and storage should be scrapped and instead funding should be put into renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage capacity.”

A UK seminar (virtual and in person) to discuss the new report’s findings is planned for central London on 22 April, 2023.

You can read the full report here.