According to the National Grid, local generation could make up more than two thirds of the total capacity of the energy system by 2050. This is the prediction for one of the four ‘Future Energy Scenarios’ just published by the UK System Operator. This ‘Community Renewables’ outcome would deliver rapid decarbonisation as well as substantial decentralisation.
In this scenario, generation capacity is forecast to hit 158GW by 2030, of which 48GW is distributed generation and 23GW is microgeneration, making 45% of total capacity.
Total capacity will then rise to 268GW by 2050, with distributed and microgeneration accounting for 91GW and 82GW respectively and 65% of the total.
Such a transition is already supported by the Scottish government with targets in the Scottish Energy Strategy for half of all new renewable projects to have an element of shared ownership by 2020, alongside 1GW of community and locally owned energy by 2020, and 2GW by 2030.
This scenario depends upon widespread electrification of heat through the use of heat pumps and the continued deployment of solar and onshore wind. While this is welcome, it requires a realistic route to market post-FiT for solar and onshore wind, along with a successor scheme to the Renewable Heat Incentive which closes in 2021.
The social and economic benefits of local generation are well understood. Here’s hoping that the correct instruments are put in place to help deliver them.
For more information, find a great summary of the report here.