Emissions-based Simulation to Evaluate Long-term Low Carbon Transition Pathways for the UK Gas and Electricity Infrastructure

A major transition to a low carbon electricity and energy generation system is anticipated. Technical and institutional change is required for the UK Government to reach its target of an 80% reduction in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by 2050, and a 20% reduction by 2020. The energy infrastructure requires investment, and re-design, to continue to meet predicted UK demand whilst aiding in a reduction in CO2 emissions and improving supply security. Four outline transition pathways have been developed that depict a diverse range of realistic predictions for the transition of the UK gas and electricity infrastructure to a low carbon economy from 2008 until 2052. This paper focuses on evaluating future CO2 emission reductions in the UK electricity grid, out to 2052, from one of the pathways entitled `Market Rules’. Results are given for future trends in CO2 emissions from 2003 to 2052. Future CO2 intensities, measured in g/kWh, are also analysed. Findings of this work indicate that a large reduction in CO2 emissions is possible due to both CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) and future gas turbine technological improvement. Further, there is a great variance in publicised UK electricity system CO2 emissions and CO2 intensity, from UK and European energy statistics, leading to an unclear determination of a realistic trend in future emissions for `Market Rules’.