New report shows £100bn savings with 100% renewable energy Net Zero plan

A new report concludes that a 100% renewable energy mix for the UK would save well over £100bn in achieving net zero by 2050, compared to the UK Government’s current strategy. It would also mean more than 20% lower cumulative carbon emissions in the process. The study, carried out by renowned energy modelling academics at LUT University in Finland, involves hour-by-hour simulation of different scenarios for reaching net zero for UK energy systems.

The report was commissioned by 100percentrenewableuk, with energy modelling academics from LUT University, a cutting-edge science university in Finland.

It is the first time that a 100% renewable model has been directly compared to the current UK Government’s pathway, which includes nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage. Besides saving enormous sums of money, a fully renewable energy system would also ensure the UK’s energy security.

‘The benefits of a fully renewable energy system in achieving net zero are clear,’ said Dr David Toke, specialist in energy politics and the report’s convenor. ‘Far from simply keeping the lights on, they ensure secure and reliable energy for the UK, with huge economic savings compared to other options and incredible job creation opportunities.’

The study identifies a preferred scenario focusing on offshore wind, which includes large amounts of inter-annual energy storage to cope with fluctuations in wind power outputs within and between years. The report concludes that the more onshore wind power and solar photovoltaics are used, the cheaper the path to net zero becomes. All scenarios studied include the same assumptions for demands for energy services. Real 100% zero carbon emissions are reached, which is more than the Government’s pathway will achieve.

The research presents several energy system transition pathways to 100% renewable energy in 2050 in high-spatial and temporal resolution, by describing the energy system of the UK in full detail from the starting point of today in five-year time steps until 2050. In total, four scenarios were conducted, only one of which (IAS) which has inter-annual storage:

  • One scenario, called Best Policy Scenario (BPS), aimed for 100% renewable energy in 2050, with offshore wind as the main resource, limiting onshore wind and solar photovoltaics according to available land area;
  • A second scenario called Inter-Annual Storage (IAS) adds on (to the BPS) required inter-annual storage needed to provide good levels of insurance against the possibilities of low-wind years;
  • A third scenario (BPSplus) tested the limits of higher land area availability for onshore wind and solar photovoltaics, and where also renewable electricity-based e-fuel imports are allowed;
  • Finally, a fourth scenario – Current Policy Scenario (CPS) – adopted the UK Government’s strategy for net zero as published in 2020.

Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, said: ‘Here in the UK we have an amazing opportunity to do our bit – by meeting all our energy needs (not just electricity) from renewables and storage by 2050. If you’re sceptical about the feasibility of that ambition level, then dig deep into this report – and see your hope rekindled!’

Dr Toke continued: ‘The implications of this report are huge. All public and enforced consumer spending on new nuclear power and carbon capture and storage should be scrapped and instead funding should be put into renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage capacity.’

The report also found that storing renewable energy as renewable electricity-based methane in conventional natural gas storage facilities is the most cost-effective means of inter-annual storage. The methane is converted from air captured CO2 and green hydrogen using renewable electricity. This strategy avoids the use of natural gas from environmentally destructive drilling as required by UK Government scenarios (with carbon capture and storage). Government projections involve producing large amounts of electricity and hydrogen from natural gas.



You can see the youtube recording of our seminar on 100percent renewable energy for the UK held in London on April 22nd  HERE

Speakers at the event were: introduction by Caroline Lucas MP,  David Toke,  Ian Fairlie (both 100percentrenewableuk), Professor Christian Breyer (LUT University), Dr Doug Parr (Greenpeace), Alethea Warrington (Possible), Rianna Gargiulo (Friends of the Earth and Divest UK), Charmian Larke (Atlantic Energy), Jonathon Porritt,  Professor Mark Barrett (UCL), Professor Dave Elliott, Professor Nick Eyre (University of Oxford), Alison Downes (Stop Sizewell C),   Kate Hudson (CND) and Dave Andrews (Claverton Group)

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2 thoughts on “New report shows £100bn savings with 100% renewable energy Net Zero plan”

  1. The report also shows in Figure 12: “Regional electricity generation in 2050.”
    That; offshore wind generation (TWh) in the Midlands is about 3 times higher than in Scotland. I would be very interested to know how they come to this conclusion considering that the Midlands is landlocked. Furthermore, I would have expected Scotland’s offshore wind to be significantly higher.

    I would certainly agree that the UK should certainly be able to, relatively easily, transition to A1 a 100% re-based economy. However, I’m not convinced at the numbers in this particular report add up.

    Another example is Figure 10: “Thermal energy storage output to 2050 (left), Hourly heat
    storage state-of-charge in 2050.”

    The chart shows total thermal energy storage output (that’s output not capacity closed) of about 11.5TWh. If you assume that all this is only used for domestic hot water storage then that works out to approximately 1KWh of TES per household per day.

    If we assume that the majority of houses use heat pumps, or at least electricity, for heating hot water, then virtually all houses will have hot water tank. 100 litres of hot water, heated overnight and stored for daytime use, stores about 6KWh of heat. (Government stats suggest it’s actually about 122 l of hot water per household per day). After you add in all the commercial, industrial, district heating schemes and possibly domestic thermal energy storage for supplementing space heating, you’re probably looking at around ten times at the figure given.

    Thermal energy storage should have a big role to play in the future energy system as it is probably one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, ways of storing large quantities of energy to provide grid balancing services in a predominantly electrified energy economy. With the Smart use of high temperature heat pumps, 1m³ of water, well insulated, could potentially store approximately 100KWh of thermal energy, that’s a marginal capital cost of storage of about 2p/KWh, that’s around 1,000 times, or more, cheaper than current battery storage. Of course there’s the cost of the rest of the system to account for which will be much higher, but some of this cost, possibly a significant proportion, will have been incurred anyway with a switch to electrified heating.

  2. Very large offshore windfarms in the North Sea, eg Dogger Bank, need to be described somewhere in relation to the land area of the UK, hence references to ‘The Midlands’ etc

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