U.K. Energy Sector Only Has to Spend 7% More to Hit Net-Zero Goal

Reaching Britain’s net-zero emissions pledge will cost the energy industry 3 trillion pounds ($4 trillion) as the nation upends its heating and transport sectors and expands renewable power generation.

The price tag is broadly the same in all four scenarios calculated by National Grid Plc, the U.K. power network manager that published its estimates in a report on Tuesday. There’s only a 7% difference in the cost of the quickest and greenest pathway and the slowest trajectory where the 2050 target is missed, easing concerns that decarbonization is prohibitively expensive.

“Estimating the costs of scenarios 30 years into the future with accuracy is difficult given the level of uncertainty around new and emerging technologies, and changes in the economy and people’s behavior,” said Rob Gibson, National Grid’s whole system and gas supply manager, who led the research.

The U.K.’s 2050 target is legally binding and it’s down to industry to figure out how to make it happen. National Grid models four future approaches in an annual report published in July. Tuesday’s publication expands the analysis to show the costs.

The report shows the most ambitious design, called “Leading the Way,” has the lowest overall cost. That outlook is driven by significant changes to transport and residential heating, with consumers adopting electric or autonomous cars, and negative carbon emissions from the power sector.  

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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