Chris Goggin of Rinnai examines a recent study that outlines three different strategies for decarbonising the national energy system of the United Kingdom. The study outlines both the current government plan and the opposition strategy. Does either approach guarantee positive outcomes that lead to Net Zero?

The newly published paper "Decarbonising the Grid: Three Scenarios for Achieving Net Zero Power" outlines three alternative approaches to provide the more than 60 million people living in the UK with affordable, clean energy. Aurora Energy Research, an independent provider of energy market analytics, was hired to examine each route. The reviewers have offered their assessment of the proposals' viability.

The three scenarios are:

  • Net Zero 2030 plans under the opposition
  • Net Zero 2035 guided by the current government.  
  • “Business-As-Usual” model, which follows the current trajectory of policy development and market conditions.

The "Business-as-Usual" concept will not be discussed in this article because it would also be covered by ongoing government initiatives. These routes centre on achieving Net Zero status by 2030 and 2035, as well as the steps that need to be performed to make this goal a reality.

Policy Exchange is a research institute that highlights the ideas and attitudes connected with each political party in an effort to influence both domestic and foreign policy. Policy Exchange commissioned the report. Supporters and donations provide the funding.

The demand for NetZero and a sustainable energy future is what drives societal ambitions, thus our industry needs to pay attention to the nuances here. Policy is determined by politicians, and industry plays a crucial role in providing a healthy future for heating, hot water supply, and clean air.

This report's major claim is that, under the current Government plan, the British energy grid is better positioned to decarbonise in 2035 than it is under the opposition's 2030 timeline. Nonetheless, there are some goals, like increasing the capacity of renewable energy, that both sides can agree with in theory.

Enhancing the production and delivery of solar, wind, and hydrogen—both offshore and onshore—will be a shared goal for all sides. Carbon Capture Underground Storage, or CCUS, will receive more money, while the production and use of nuclear energy will also increase.

There are clear differences in strategy based on the different timelines each party believes may yield real and achievable results. According to the opposition plan, the grid should be decarbonised by 2030, although the current government believes that 2035 would be a better date.

"Aurora's modelling shows that NZ 2030 is deemed an infeasible scenario, justified by an insufficient amount of time available to conduct what would be a radical overhaul of the power system, policy, planning systems, and investment landscape," the report describes the 2030 approach. Investment in grid capacity as well as the pace at which vital technologies such as offshore wind, onshore wind, and solar must be built must to expand to multiple times their previous installation speeds.

For the current political opposition to succeed in decarbonising, massive financial investments will be needed. The amount needed, according to Aurora's calculations, is £15.6 billion annually until 2030 (or a total of £93.5 billion), and an additional £4.4 billion annually from 2031 to 2035 (or £22.5 billion), for a total of £116 billion over the following 11 years.

As stated in the Aurora reviews, "Reaching the Government's current target of a Net Zero power system by 2035 will still require an extensive systems level change and significant policy intervention, though more feasible than a NZ 2030 scenario." This indicates that the 2035 approach is definitively feasible.

As of right now, the government's plans to decarbonise the UK's electricity grid by 2035 call for an additional £8.2 billion in investment annually until 2030, or a total of £49.3 billion. an additional £11.1 billion in investment annually between 2031 and 2035, for a total of £55.3 billion. Over the following eleven years, the cumulative investment will total £104.6 billion.

Aurora believes that the 2035 strategy is more realistic because of the pace at which new and updated technology and legislative changes must be introduced. During this period, the investing environment is likewise thought to be more feasible.

While the opposition believes decarbonising the UK energy grid by 2030 can be achieved through capacitating £116 billion of investment, the current government plans to extend the 2030 timeline to 2035 and absorb £104 billion of additional subsidy. Time and finance are central issues to both strategies. Both the current government and the opposition party are committed to decarbonising the energy grid; they have not, however, agreed upon an appropriate pathway that secures beneficial economic and societal benefits.

Rinnai actively participates in reporting and consulting on proposed changes to mainstream UK political parties' energy-related policies. Rinnai seeks to provide UK consumers with a fair analysis of all issues pertaining to UK energy options, prices, and accessibility.

To stay up to date with policy news and views subscribe to our newsletter

In addition to providing customers with cost savings for off-grid, residential, and commercial heating as well as hot water delivery, RINNAI PROVIDES CLEAR PATHWAYS TO REDUCE CARBON AND DECARBONISATION.

 Learn more about this topic at