Open Innovations Northern Powergrid Element Energy

Northern Powergrid Distribution Future Energy Scenarios - DFES 2022

Northern Powergrid's potential future scenarios, both interpreted from the 2022 National Grid Future Energy Scenarios, and a Planning Scenario drawing from the Climate Change Committee 6th Carbon Budget Scenarios and fitting the ENA Open Networks Best View Scenario criteria.




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About this visualisation - DFES 2022

This tool shows us how we can get to net-zero carbon by 2050. As part of our planning for decarbonisation we considered a range of possible scenarios in our region. We are publishing here our modelling results for our stakeholders to review and comment upon. The five scenarios are:

  1. NPg planning – meets net zero by 2045. Accelerated uptake of electric vehicles and heat pumps in the early years and some use of hydrogen via hybrid heat pumps later years.
  2. System transformation – energy system is adapted for hydrogen heating and flexibility on supply side. Customers are assumed to not change their behaviour much including lower energy efficiency measures.
  3. Customer transformation – in contrast to the previous scenario, customers are keen to change their energy use behaviours and employ energy efficiency measures. Electricity is main source for heat purposes.
  4. Leading the way – gets to net zero by 2047, this is the fastest credible decarbonisation deployed on UK scale. Heating is a mixture of hydrogen and electricity with customer behaviour significantly adapted to increase system efficiency.
  5. Falling short – formerly known as Steady Progression. Gets to 78% of net zero by 2050. This represents the slowest decarbonisation effort with minimal customer behaviour changes.

Details of assumptions and how these scenarios were built can be found below.

These regional pathways together form our 2022 Distribution Future Energy Scenarios (DFES). They also incorporate feedback from stakeholders who engaged with our 2021 DFES published in December 2021.

Previous versions of Northern Powergrid's DFES can be found for 2020 and 2021, or choose from all our visualisations.

If you have any comments, questions or feedback on our scenarios, please send them to

Northern Powergrid DFES 2022 scenario assumptions in detail

NPg Planning Scenario — net zero in mid-2040s

This scenario world is extremely ambitious, in line with our stakeholders' vision, achieving net zero 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.

Electricity demand
Appliance efficiency assumptions meet current EU targets for 2030. Industrial and commercial (I&C) energy efficiency is aligned to EU energy efficiency targets.
Heat demand
For building level heat, new build properties are required to install low carbon heating technologies from 2025. Off-gas grid properties are 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 are replaced with low carbon alternatives.
This scenario sees deep electrification at an accelerated rate. A ban on pure internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles takes effect in 2030, followed by hybrid vehicles in 2035, resulting in the phase out of fossil fuel powered vehicles in the mid-2040s. The electrification of transport extends to commercial fleets with electric buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) growing significantly from the late 2020s and transitioning to electric power trains before 2050.
Natural gas and hydrogen supply
The gas grid still exists but at reduced capacity relative to current levels. By the mid-2040s, within the Northern Powergrid region, it is entirely converted 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. 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 a high uptake of consumer driven technologies such as domestic solar PV and batteries.
For Northern Powergrid, the key purpose for using flexibility in the network is to reduce peak demand. Our planning scenario considers customer flexibility from time of use tariffs (ToUT), active network management (ANM) schemes, contracted customer flexibility (Distribution System Operation) and the application of smart grid solutions to our network. Based on findings from our CLDS innovation project and other market intelligence, we assume that customer price-driven flexibility with reduce demand by around 6% and 5% at EHV and HV/LV respectively during peak hours from 2025.
Support mechanisms
Substantional encouragement for the roll-out of heat pumps. Ban on sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Supportive environment for the adoption of distributed generation and flexibility markets.

Leading The Way — UK–wide net zero in 2047

This scenario shows the earliest credible date when the net zero target is met. Made of the most favourable carbon reductions from each sector and will likely have geographical variances in the way this is done - to suit the regional differences.

Residential sector
Thermal energy efficiency is brought up to high levels in mid-2020’s. This is combined with quick uptake of heat pumps to 600 000 units by 2024 and thermostats being turned down by 1° C. Hydrogen networks increase hydrogen boiler installations from 2028 while gas boiler sales are banned from 2035. Upon reaching net-zero 64% of households have heat pumps. Thermal energy storage is used to offset peak demand and avoid peak energy prices. Only 10% of households have hydrogen boilers installed. All appliances are smart and highly efficient.
Consumers frequently use public transport or decide to walk or cycle instead of driving. Petrol and diesel cars and vans are banned from 2030 with PHEV from 2032. New buses are zero emission from 2028. Cars and vans are mainly electric supported by a national charging infrastructure and smart charging at home. HGVs are zero emission from 2040, mostly electric with small fraction of hydrogen powered units. This scenario employs the lowest amount of EVs, as public transport is frequently chosen by consumers. Battery EVs charged at home use smart technology and are often supplemented with an on-site PV system.
High gas and carbon pricing incentivises industrial sector to move to electricity and hydrogen beginning in 2020s. Expensive energy prices additionally encourage energy efficiency improvements. Industrial clusters rapidly increase hydrogen production from 2020s providing wide availability of this fuel for future cluster consumers. Still, national hydrogen network is very limited which in turn makes electrification a more feasible future strategy. 2050 sees 61% of industrial demand covered by electricity and 37% by hydrogen. Remaining customers use natural gas with carbon capture technology to offset their emissions.
Energy efficiency measures are widely employed to avoid increasing energy prices throughout 2020s. Heat pumps are rapidly rolled out in 2020s and 2030s whereas hydrogen clusters start supplying hydrogen in Midlands and South East of England. Increasing number of electricity-hungry data centres push electricity use up in 2020s and 2030s. By the target year of 2050, electricity provides most energy for heat needs, but around 19% is met by hydrogen. High engagement in Demand Side Response, mostly in form of thermal storage, shifts peak electricity demand.

System Transformation — net zero in 2050

Meets net zero in 2050 with smallest consumer impact. This scenario involves a high use of hydrogen for heating and other energy demands.

Residential sector
Thermal efficiency is improved with government incentives in 2020’s. Natural gas network is switched to hydrogen from 2030. Heating and hot water demand is supplied by hydrogen boilers with new-builds equipped with hydrogen-ready boilers from 2025. Consumers buy LED lighting and high-efficiency appliances. In 2050, 57% of homes use hydrogen for their boilers. Some home appliances provide smart functionality so that demand flexibility is possible.
Ban on petrol and diesel cars is forced in 2032 with vans and PHEV in 2035. From 2030s, the demand for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles increases and is paralleled by development of national refuelling network. HGVs switch to hydrogen from 2030s and reach the government zero emission by 2040. All new buses are zero emission from 2030 with minibuses following suit in 2035. This scenario represents highest transport demand by 2050 mainly because of high uptake of hydrogen vehicles. Consumers are not actively encouraged to use car transport alternatives.
Carbon pricing in 2030s encourages industrial users to switch to hydrogen. Its production grows in industrial clusters in 2020s and then spreads out in 2030s. In 2040s, natural gas network is completely switched to hydrogen which allows a widespread national use. By 2050, electricity provides 45% of energy with 53% being supplied by hydrogen. Demand Side Response is limited and only 16% of peak electricity demand is shifted. Where hydrogen is infeasible, natural gas is used and its emission offset by Carbon Capture measures.
Hydrogen use grows from 2030 from hydrogen clusters and spreads nationally through a recently converted gas network. In 2050, hydrogen provides 27% of energy demand, mainly for heating.

Consumer Transformation — net zero in 2050

This scenario meets the net zero carbon in 2050 and shows a pathway that has a relatively high consumer involvement. This scenario uses a high level of electrification for heating and other energy demands.

Residential sector
In the period between 2020 – 2035 retrofitting of thermal measures takes place – insulation, triple glazing and low carbon heating. Natural gas boilers cannot be sold after 2035. Recent government target of 600 000 heat pumps installed by 2028 is reached and from 2025, all new build residential buildings have a heat pump. Thermostats are turned down by 0.5C with customers buying high efficiency smart appliances in their houses. In 2050, 23 million heat pumps are installed and around 10 million homes have thermal storage. Some customers use a district heating with centrally located heat pump. No hydrogen is used for residential heating. Customers change their demand patterns to use cheaper off-peak electricity. This flexibility is further enhanced by smart appliances turning on, off, up or down throughout the day.
Consumers prefer public transport whenever feasible. Petrol and diesel car and van sales are banned from 2030 with PHEV from 2035. HGV sector achieves zero emission by 2040 with most vehicles powered by electric batteries. Buses sold after 2030 are zero emission. By 2050, most of the 5m battery EVs support Vehicle to Grid strategy which provides peak demand flexibility. This scenario employs limited use of hydrogen for transport since no national refuelling network is available.
Aggressive carbon pricing in 2030s pushes industrial consumers to switch to electricity. Hydrogen is produced in industrial clusters but does not spread nationally. This forces some consumers to relocate their facilities to the clusters. Those who cannot relocate or electrify their processes still use natural gas with Carbon Capture technologies. Upon reaching net zero, 89% of industrial energy demand is electrified with 8% met by hydrogen. Demand side response can shift 36% of peak electricity demand to off-peak periods.
Heating is mostly electrified and supported by energy efficiency measures that help control energy demand. By 2050, electricity provides 89% of commercial energy needs. High engagement in Demand Side Response allows shifting heating demands from peak times.

Falling Short — formerly known as Steady Progression

78% of net-zero carbon is achieved. This scenario represents the slowest credible way to decarbonisation. Heavy reliance is on natural gas for heating and diesel for transport is still present in 2050.

Residential sector
Thermal efficiency retrofitting is not heavily incentivised by government policies. Some new build houses have pumps where it is more cost effective than gas, which in 2050 is still used by 40% of households. No hydrogen boilers are rolled out and there is no hydrogen network built. Most appliances are not smart limiting demand side flexibility.
Banning new diesel and petrol cars takes effect from 2035 followed by van and PHEV ban from 2040. Buses sold after 2035 are zero emission. By the end of 2050, this is the only scenario that still uses petrol and diesel for transport purposes. BEV and PHEV account for 38 million units, however, only 5% of households join Vehicle to Grid scheme.
Fossil fuel switching is limited up until 2030s, after which industrial consumers start to electrify their processes. Industrial clusters grow slowly and so is hydrogen production there. By the end of 2050, electricity provides 59% with 36% coming from natural gas. Few customers take part in Demand Side Response with only 10% of peak electricity being shifted to other times.
Heat pumps start replacing gas boilers in some areas, natural gas is still widely used for heating demand. By 2050, natural gas still meets 46% of energy demand.


For the DFES visualisations we 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 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 constructed 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 was assigned to the Primary substation that serves the most customers.

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.

In the Primaries layer we have included Bulk and Grid Supply Points as "pseudo-Primaries" to give Local Authorities the full picture in their area. These pseudo-Primaries appear as small cut-outs. They are used to include large generation and storage connections that are not seen by Primary substations.

Local Authority view

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. Direct connects to Grid Supply Points (connection points between the GB transmission network and Northern Powergrid’s distribution network), comprised of wind generation and co-located storage, have been allocated to local authorities on the basis of the greenspace available to build wind farms, while direct connections to Bulk Supply Points (connection points on NPg's network which are fed from the Grid Supply Points and supply the primary substations) have been included on the basis of the location of Primary substations fed by each bulk supply point. The underlying data can be downloaded from Data Mill North.


DFES 2022 data files can be found on Data Mill North and the Primary substation data files that power this visualisation are stored with this repository on Github.


If you enter a full postcode in the search, we use FindThatPostcode (© David Kane) to look up associated geographic areas. For the Primary Substation view we use the latitude/longitude of the postcode centroid to calculate the appropriate place.