As the Engineering Net Zero report’s analysis shows – Net Zero by 2050 is possible, however the risk of failure is high.
Net Zero is dependent on dramatic changes across our entire energy system, changes to the types of energy we create and use, in how we move and store energy, the infrastructure we build and how we finance new projects.
In order to reach Net Zero the UK will need to deploy new energy generating capacity at a level we’ve never seen before.
It requires the creation of an entirely new carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry in the UK and its capacity to have reach by 2050 4 x the current global capacity, with the proposed increase use of hydrogen also dependent on CCS. CCS therefore presents the biggest risk to our achieving Net Zero by 2050, without it an entirely new plan on how to cut the UK’s carbon emissions will need to be formed.
Policy makers must be alive to the fact that battery technology simple does not exist on a scale to support a system dependent on intermittent power, we must have suitable supply of low-carbon firm energy, of which nuclear and combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) with CCS are the only current options. The Net Zero target is ambitious and Government action is fundamental. Without serious changes and investment Net Zero 2050 is not possible.
Whilst this report looks primarily at the core systems components that will deliver the energy requirements to achieve Net Zero by 2050, this is not an energy generation issue alone.