National Grid: UK could be free of energy imports by 2020s

The UK could shed its dependence on energy imports by the early 2020s if it meets its carbon and renewable energy targets as planned, according to National Grid's scenario planning.

The network operator today released three different projections it will use to forecast future energy demand, demonstrating that the UK's plans to shift towards low-carbon energy sources are both technically feasible and will deliver wide-ranging benefits.
The scenarios range from "Slow Progression", where developments in renewable and low-carbon energy are comparatively sluggish, to "Accelerated Growth", where green targets are met ahead of schedule with a wide roll out of renewables, new nuclear plants, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, and energy efficiency programmes.

A third "Going Green" projection suggests that the government's target of producing 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 will be met, along with emissions goals for 2020, 2030 and 2050.

This middle scenario sees the UK boasting 30GW of wind energy capacity by 2020, along with 5GW of biomass – levels pretty much in line with government targets. The "Going Green" projection would also see 7GW of micro-generation capacity, almost 80 per cent of which will come from solar PV, and only one nuclear power plant connected to the grid.

Such energy independence comes hand in hand with a 43 per cent reduction in total greenhouse gases – well above the 34 per cent target set by the government for 2020.

Indeed, National Grid says it could not produce a scenario in which the 2020 renewable target was met and the carbon reduction target was not exceeded.