Zero carbon to be made possible by 2025

National Grid could run on zero-carbon electricity only; Scotland pushes zero-carbon in capital and renewables across the country.

According to National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO), the UK’s power grid is gearing up for entirely zero-carbon supply capability within the next six years.

ESO Director, Fintan Slye stated: “ Zero carbon operation of the electricity system by 2025 means a fundamental change to how our system was designed to operate, integrating newer technologies right across the system – from large-scale offshore wind to domestic scale solar panels – and increasing demand-side participation, using new smart digital systems to manage and control the system in real-time.”

The changes will also require alteration to balancing markets as well as new and existing ancillary services. However, the ESO was careful to avoid stating that zero-carbon would be the only form of supply by the target date.  While the systems would be in place, zero-carbon energy would be suppled “whenever there is sufficient renewable generation.”

The statement comes at the same time as National Grid revealed a full week of coal-free power between 1st and 8th May this year – the first time since the Victorian era.  

As far as ScottishPower is concerned, the message is: “Let’s go for it and show what we can do.”  In an interview with Unearthed, the company’s CEO, Keith Anderson, was bullish about the prospects of wind-powered energy and hitting the UK government’s target to provide 1/3rd (30Gw) of all UK power from offshore wind by 2030 as part of a new deal with the industry.

Having sold its remaining fossil fuel assets in 2018, ScottishPower is now totally dependent on renewable energy supply, so the deal has boosted confidence to the point where Anderson states: ““I think having a target of 30GW by 2030 is good by any stretch of the imagination. Now could you push it harder and further to 50GW by 2050 or 40GW etc? Yeah you could but right now 30GW by 2030 is more than enough.”

He is even confident in taking-on the oil, automotive and tech giants that are starting to grab a share of the renewables sector, pulling no punches about ScottishPower’s role in the future: ““We’ll work with some of those companies, and we’ll use some of those companies’ expertise. but we’re the experts in building renewables, we’re the experts at distribution, and we’re the experts at dealing with the customer.”

And the UK’s sixth largest electricity supplier is already demonstrating that its claims are not just ‘hot air’.  As well as a stated aim to invest £6bn in renewable capacity by 2022, the supplier is set to make Glasgow the UK’s first zero-carbon city.  With a low-emission zone, similar to London’s, already in place, ScottishPower and the City Council plans to invest further to hit the zero target, including a mass roll-out of electric vehicle charging points to serve more than 70% of the city’s residents who live in flats without personal off-street parking.