FES 2022–More Wishful Thinking

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By Paul Homewood

Every year the National Grid publish their Future Energy Scenarios , FES, to convince everybody, not least themselves, that the UK can get to Net Zero in 2050 without any problems:


However this year’s edition is still as full of wishful thinking as ever.

Forget about 2050, even the figures for 2035 don’t stack up. Let’s focus on the Consumer Transformation scenario (CT), which is fairly middle of the road, and assumes widespread uptake of electric cars and heat pumps. The other three scenarios are not much different.

Below is the anticipated electricity mix:

By 2035, as you can see, wind and solar will account for 78% of electricity output. Dispatchable sources, including gas (with CCS), biomass and nuclear, will only supply 17%. Apparently we will have so much power, we will be exporting 88 TWh a year, assuming anybody actually wants it.

You can probably already sense that the grid simply won’t be stable with such a high load of intermittent renewables.

Electricity demand is set to rise rapidly, as fossil fuels are phased out. Under our CT scenario, peak demand will rise to 87 GW by 2035

As for the projected capacity, the National Grid dare not even show it on one page together. Their data however gives this:

Look very closely, and you will see that dispatchable capacity – nuclear, bio and gas – only provide 44.2 GW; and half of that is unabated gas, which will not be allowed much longer.

So where, pray, do they get the rest of that 87 GW will come from?

For a start, you should note that the peak demand quoted in FL-04 is ACS – they explain:

In other words, it is not “peak” at all. You would probably need to add at least 10%, to cover years of extreme demand. You will also need to build in a safety buffer, to allow for plant outages – it is normal to assume that only 85% of capacity will be available at any given time. And finally, you also need to allow for line losses.

All in all, to supply that 87 GW, you would need about 120 GW of firm capacity.

The projection assumes 109 GW of wind power and 47 GW of solar power. The latter is effectively worthless in mid-winter, when it can only supply about 2 GW at most on average. And as we know too well, wind power can plummet to well below 10% of its capacity for days and weeks on end.

Even if we assume that wind power can generate at 10% of its capacity during periods of cold anti-cyclonic weather, we will still be about 50 GW short.

What about interconnectors then? The plan allows for 18.8 GW, which still leaves us well short, even assuming the Europeans have any surplus power to sell.

The FES reckons that we can shuffle demand around during the day, with smart meters, vehicle-to-grid and demand response. But even assuming that demand can be perfectly smoothed each day, this will likely only cut peak demand by 10 GW, given that winter demand fluctuates by about 20 GW from peak to trough.

So what is the FES answer to this conundrum?

As already noted, they are totally dependent on getting full power from the interconnectors, which is itself a a suicidal policy. On top of that, they say they can get 67.6 GW from storage, V2G (vehicle to Grid) and DSR (demand supply response).

In terms of storage, they acknowledge that, on average, batteries will only store one hour’s worth of power – ie 28.9 GW = 28.9 GWh. And as I have pointed out, DSR might shift demand around within the day to help smooth peaks. but cannot solve the problem of days on end without wind power.

And, of course, exactly the same applies to V2G. Indeed, according to FES, even by 2050 we will still only be able to store 288 GWh, enough to supply 12 GW for a day, from all sources including V2G. None of this will be of any use when we are short of wind power for weeks on end.

There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from this truly frightening and childishly naive analysis – there will be electricity rationing in the not-too-distant future. No longer will we be able to rely on a secure, reliable energy supply.


JULY 25, 2022