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02 Mar 2010


Climate & Environment
Sustainable Dev.

2 March 2010

A report launched today highlights critical challenges in the current ‘all-electric’ approach to decarbonisation of the UK energy system as this would increase our dependence on the electricity system to unprecedented levels

A ground breaking report by leading energy scientists in the UK highlights problems and risks in orthodox vision to achieving a low-carbon energy system. An important finding is that an efficient and ‘integrated’ approach could reduce electricity demand by 13%, help manage power flows and relieve critical pressure on the future electricity system. Heat recovery from power generation and investment in heat networks could be central to a more efficient and resilient energy system.

Most scenarios for a 2050 energy system anticipate that electricity will increasingly be used to meet energy needs for transport and heating. The report outlines that such a transition could result in a doubling of peak electricity demand. Realising this ‘all-electric’ scenario is in turn dependent on a number of critical outcomes, all which must be met to achieve carbon abatement targets: 

- Investment in new, low-carbon power stations at unprecedented growth rates 

- Expansion of electricity network capacity to meet higher system peak demand 

- Insulation to a very high standard of much of the UK building stock, and significant change in consumer behaviour

The report finds that any route to a low carbon future brings major challenges. A system that makes greater use of cogeneration and district heating can however mitigate many of the more demanding aspects of the ‘all-electric’ approach. Used in combination with biomass and CCS technology for fossil fuels, cogeneration and district heating infrastructure have a key role to play up to 2050 and beyond. The integrated approach proposed in the UK report, assumes an energy system where CHP and DH, used in combination with a decarbonised electricity grid, delivering the following benefits (as compared to a leading ‘all-electric’ scenario):

- Energy losses from power generation reduced by 8 MTOE, equivalent to almost half the final energy demand from households in 2050

- A more flexible energy system overall, with reduced peaks in electricity demand and greater capacity to store surplus electricity in the form of heat

- Reduced electricity demand – a 13% reduction as compared to the benchmark ‘all-electric’ approach

- A reduction in the new investment required in electricity networks

The European association for the promotion of cogeneration

Avenue des Arts 3-4-5 · B-1210 Brussels · Belgium

Tel: +32 2 772 82 90 · Fax: +32 2 772 50 44 · 




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