Northern Powergrid's potential net zero scenarios as developed for Emerging Thinking, to be in line with the UK's 2050 net zero target. You can read more about these scenarios in detail at the bottom of this page.
In August and September 2020 we have shared our emerging views on the business plan that we are preparing to submit in 2021 in line with Ofgem’s price control period 2023-28. A huge part of this planning is the work we are doing to prepare for the UK Government’s target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
As part of our planning for decarbonisation we have considered a range of possible pathways that our region could take to get to net zero by 2050, in order to determine what action we need to take in 2023-28. With low carbon energy consultants Element Energy we have created our Emerging Thinking net zero scenarios using bottom-up “building blocks” – key elements of energy generation and consumption that make up the UK’s energy market and how this will change in order to decarbonise in the future. These building blocks can broadly be split into three key categories: heat, transport, and generation and storage. For the scenarios we have modelled we have made assumptions about the volume and rate of usage of each of the building blocks to form a view about how decarbonisation will practically be achieved under different pathways.
We’re publishing here our modelling results for our stakeholders to review and comment upon. The three scenarios are:
Details of the assumptions used in each scenario are described in further detail below. These scenarios represent different possible future worlds but should not be used as a prescriptive forecast; Northern Powergrid and Element Energy accept no responsibility for the use of this data.
These pathways have been developed by building on our Distribution Future Energy Scenarios (DFES) which were published in December 2019. These scenarios were a regional and more granular view of National Grid’s 2019 Future Energy Scenarios. National Grid’s 2020 scenarios were published in July 2020 and we are working on our own updated view of DFES 2020 using these updated models which will be published in December 2020
If you have any comments, questions or feedback on our Emerging Thinking scenarios, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
This scenario achieves significant decarbonisation, consistent with the UK reaching a net zero energy system by 2050, through a high degree of electrification.
The uptake of electric cars and vans is rapid with consumers adopting the low emissions vehicles as they achieve price parity with petrol and diesel cars in the 2020s. Car manufacturers are driven by stringent emissions targets to produce electric options across a range of vehicle segments. Meanwhile, range anxiety is alleviated by the expansion of charging networks across the region. The electrification of transport also extends to commercial fleets with buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) transitioning to electric power trains by 2050.
In the early 2020s an evidence-based decision is made that electrification of heat is the best way to decarbonise this difficult sector. A range of policies and incentives are assumed to be rolled out that focus on improving building energy efficiency, thereby supporting the wide scale roll out of heat pumps. From 2025, all new housing must have a low carbon heating system, such as a heat pump. High-carbon, off-gas heating systems such as oil boilers are banned at the point of technology renewal in existing stock from 2027, with gas boilers then banned from being installed in existing buildings from 2035.
Overall electricity generation in this scenario will grow to be much higher than it is today due to growth in demand driven by the electrification of heating and transport. Renewable generation grows quickly, including both solar PV and wind connected to the distribution network, with high consumer engagement leading to high uptake of domestic solar PV and battery systems. Low carbon generation capacity increases quickly, but the expansion is more centralised in nature, with the dominant technologies including offshore wind and natural gas with carbon capture and storage. Customers and businesses are less engaged with the energy market and there is lower take up of technologies such as rooftop solar generation and behind the meter battery storage.
High Hydrogen - The High Hydrogen scenario achieves significant decarbonisation, consistent with the UK reaching a net zero energy system by 2050, through the use of low carbon hydrogen to decarbonise the gas grid as well as to assist in decarbonising heavy-duty vehicles.
In the early 2020’s a decision is made by the Government that the most effective way to decarbonise heat is to convert the gas distribution networks within the Northern Powergrid region from transporting natural gas to low carbon hydrogen. It is assumed that the Government provides significant incentives to stimulate the rollout of hydrogen infrastructure, whilst hydrogen-ready boilers are mandated (at the point of gas boiler renewal) in existing gas-heated buildings from the early 2020s with the conversion of the gas grid to hydrogen occurring from the mid-2030s into the mid-2040s. Also, from 2025, in line with the Committee on Climate Change recommendations, all new houses are heated via a low carbon heating system such as a heat pump.
Similar to Deep Electrification, the uptake of electric cars and vans is rapid with consumers adopting low emissions vehicles as they achieve price parity with petrol and diesel cars in the 2020s. Car manufacturers are driven by stringent emissions targets to produce electric options across a range of vehicle segments. Meanwhile, range anxiety is alleviated by the expansion of charging networks across the region. However, the situation for commercial vehicles is different. The rollout of hydrogen infrastructure allows fleet operators to undertake a phased transition of larger commercial vehicles from petrol and diesel to hydrogen, particularly large HGVs and coaches.
Low carbon generation capacity increases quickly, but the expansion is more centralised in nature, with the dominant technologies including offshore wind and natural gas with carbon capture and storage. Customers and businesses are less engaged with the energy market and there is lower take up of technologies such as rooftop solar generation and behind the meter battery storage.
Net Zero Early - This scenario world is extremely ambitious, achieving net zero compliance in the mid-2040s. The scenario relies on intensive investment in low carbon technologies, as well as early action from government and a high level of engagement from consumers, in order to achieve aggressive rollout rates, especially of EVs and heat pumps.
On the road transportation side, the scenario relies on deep electrification, much like the other two scenarios, albeit at a more accelerated rate. A ban on all internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles as well as hybrid vehicles takes effect in 2030 resulting in the phase out of fossil fuel powered vehicles in the mid-2040s. The electrification of transport also extends to commercial fleets with buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) transitioning to electric power trains before 2050.
In regard to building level heat, new build properties are required to take low carbon heating technologies from 2025. Off-gas grid properties are also required to renew their heating systems with low carbon systems from 2025 onwards, and on-gas properties are no longer able to replace heating systems with natural gas boilers from 2030 onwards. This scenario promotes rollout of hybrid heat pumps at an early stage, allowing the heat pump market to build gradually through the mid to late 2020s ahead of the steep increase in rollout rate required from 2030. By the mid-2040s, all high carbon heating systems become obsolete. The gas grid still exists but at reduced capacity relative to current levels and by the mid-2040s it is entirely converted within the Northern Powergrid region to delivering low carbon hydrogen serving customers on hydrogen hybrid heat pumps.
The incentivisation of renewable generation continues and offshore wind generation grows rapidly. The rollout of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies is also successful and from the early 2030s and onwards, both gas CCS and bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) play a significant role in the generation mix. With an engaged society, there is moderate uptake of consumer driven technologies such as domestic solar PV and batteries.
For this visualisation we have created geographies (polygons) for each Primary substation in Northern Powergrid's network. We chose to use Output Areas (2011) as these are the building blocks of census geography as used by the Office of National Statistics. We have used customer postcodes to identify each Output Area supplied by each Primary substation. Output Areas with fewer than 10 customers connected to a Primary substation were excluded. This helped with anonymisation and also reduced data issues in the customer database e.g. incorrect customer postcodes. We construct representative geographies for each Primary substation from the remaining Output Areas. In cases where multiple Primary substations serve the same Output Area, that Output Area is assigned to the Primary substation that serves the most customers there.
Some Primary substation geographies may show larger areas on the map than they cover in practice particularly in rural areas where network connectivity may be concentrated in specific parts of an Output Area. The areas shown here are representative for the purpose of showing the Future Energy Scenario model data and should not be relied upon for checking connectivity or to assess the terms of connection for specific premises.
The model predictions have been created by Primary substation and that is the definitive view. The Local Authority view is constructed from the Primary substation values. We have found the proportion of a Primary substation's customers in each Local Authority district (as defined in April 2019) by adding up the customers in each Output Area belonging to a specific Local Authority district. For some parameters (e.g. electric vehicles) the values from the Primary substations are apportioned to each Local Authority District and then summated into totals. For values which can't be summated (e.g. Peak demand) we have shown the maximum value for any Primary substation that serves a Local Authority. For Local Authorities which are only partially in Northern Powergrid areas the model only produces forecasts for the area served by Northern Powergrid, so it is not a total Local Authority forecast. Examples of these Local Authorities partially served by Northern Powergrid include Bassetlaw, East Lindsey, High Peak, North East Derbyshire, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Pendle, West Lindsey. There are some additional major sites situated within a Local Authority area which distribute into many Local Authority areas and which may have further direct connections for large wind, solar and other generation. Data for these Grid Supply Points (connection points between the GB transmission network and Northern Powergrid’s distribution network) and Bulk Supply Points (connection points on NPg's network which are fed from the Grid Supply Points and supply the primary substations) can also be downloaded from Data Mill North.
DFES 2019 data files can be found on Data Mill North and the 2020 Emerging Thinking data files can be found on Github. The Primary substation data files that power this visualisation are stored with this repository on Github.