By Paul Homewood
PEI report on the latest UK Energy & Emissions Projections, just published:
The UK’s energy department has decided to row back on its projections for new gas-fired power capacity.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is instead predicting brighter prospects for renewables and nuclear power instead.
Analysis performed by Carbon Brief of the BEIS energy and emissions forecasts suggest the department has cut its projections for the amount of new gas plants needed by 2035 by more than half since publishing its previous forecasts last year.
The forecasts show expectations that twice as much renewable energy capacity will come online by 2035 as it did in 2015, as well as twice as much battery storage capacity as it projected just a year ago, according to the analysis.
"Following a sharp fall in coal fired generation in 2016, the DDM [BEIS’s forecast model] projects a further gradual decline in fossil fuel based generation out to 2035," the BEIS document states. "This is displaced by more renewables and eventually nuclear based generation with increased imports (via interconnectors) until new nuclear capacity reduces the need for this in the 2030s."
The figures also show there still remains a gap in the overall CO2 cuts needed to meet statutory carbon reduction targets from 2023 onwards.
While the government still expects to meet the second and third carbon budgets, for the fourth carbon budget – 2023 to 2027 – UK emissions "are currently projected to be greater than the cap set by the budget, so a shortfall remains against this target", the BEIS document states.
The government’s Clean Growth Strategy, published in October, had also conceded a gap currently exists, but suggested future innovation and policy changes could help make up the shortfall.
Meanwhile solar PV continues to deploy at around half the level government expected it to, recent statistics have revealed.
Last Friday Ofgem released its most recent FiT deployment statistics, revealing how much solar had been installed during Q4 2017 – total rooftop deployment currently standing at just over half of what was originally forecast when the scheme was redesigned in late 2015.
This is how the government projections map out:
Renewables will make up nearly half of the total capacity, but dispatchable capacity will be only 43 GW, plus 20 GW from interconnectors.
Given that we probably need at least 65 GW, this seems impossibly tight, even if we can rely on imports when we need them.
1) The projections also assume that there will be 13 GW of new build nuclear by 2035.
In regard to nuclear, the government document states:
These projections are not based on developers’ proposed pipeline of nuclear projects. Instead we have made a simplifying assumption of steady frequency of deployment of new nuclear plants. Whilst there are several projects in the pipeline, it would be improper for Government to pre-empt which of them will come forward and on what timelines.
In other words, the 13 GW is not based on a realistic pipeline, but on a “simplifying assumption”.
2) 11 GW of storage is projected. However the generation figures make clear that storage will actually supply very little electricity, just 6 TWh. Half of this is already being supplied from existing pumped storage, so new storage projects will make little difference at all.
As I have noted previously, battery storage, based on current technology, is little use, other than for very short peaking periods.
3) There will need to be 15 GW of new interconnector capacity built.
4) Generation from renewables will rise from 79 TWh to 192 TWh by 2035.
Given that new development of solar and offshore wind have dried up, following the withdrawal of subsidies, most of this will have to come from offshore wind, which will push the cost of subsidies well above current levels.
Assuming an average subsidy of £100/MWh, not untypical for offshore CfDs already in the pipeline, this extra generation would add £11.3bn to current subsidies.
There will need to be be 45 GW of new build renewable capacity by 2035.
These are, of course, merely projections, and not hard plans.
Nevertheless it is hard not to conclude that the government is having to come up with these fantasy plans because, even with them, they are still falling well short of their GHG emissions targets.
According to government projections, emissions will virtually flatline after 2030.
As I have commented before, we have already picked most of the low hanging fruit, mainly phasing out coal.
Emissions in the base year of 1990 were 799 MtCO2e. Last year this had been cut by 45 % to 437 MtCO2e.
By 2030, emissions are projected at 45% of 1990 levels. However, this falls short of the Fifth Carbon Budget for the 2028-32 period, which by law mandates a reduction to 43%.
The target for 2035 is likely to demand a cut of at least 60%, given the need to reach 80% by 2050. Yet these new projections only reduce emissions by 56% by 2035.
Put simply, if the government had not put more renewables and less gas into the mix, we would be even further short of decarbonisation targets.
Meanwhile, while the UK’s energy future heads closer to the rocks, all the government can suggest is that future innovation might come along to save us.
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January 11, 2018 at 01:06PM