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REPORT: Shift to net-zero in the UK expected to produce an overall decrease in energy demand

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 725 items added with 354,317 views
  • Mar 7, 2022

The United Kingdom’s path to a “Balanced Net-Zero” is estimated to result in an 34% decrease in overall energy demand by 2050, riding mostly on the backs of exponential decreases in need for oil and gas. That number surprised me considering the amount of electric appliances and electric cars that will have to emerge on the market in order to reduce oil and gas dependence to expected levels. 

Of course, electricity demand will nearly double, and the UK forecasts a ramping up of reliance on hydrogen and ammonia energy. However, this shift will largely depend on consumers, and if the UK government is going to reach its goal of a balanced net-zero by 2050, regular Brits will need to adopt, or have reason to adopt, new technologies that swap oil and gas for electricity. 

One of the challenges will be stimulating that demand—a funny idea when most utilities and governments in the news today are talking about difficulty in managing demand increases. 

“To appreciate the scale of the challenge, consider that achieving net zero will most likely require shifting 30 million households and thousands of industrial and commercial players to become active adopters of the new technologies, such as electric heat, hydrogen fuel, and EVs,” a recent report from McKinsey on the UK’s plan reads. “As an example, the economics of low-carbon heating leveraging heat pumps are challenging compared with gas-based solutions, with a potentially long payback period.”

What will it take? On the federal government side, prioritizing the shift will mean incentivizing the shift. As we’re seeing now with gasoline prices across the world, it is the lower ends of the income brackets that rely most heavily on oil and gas. Regardless of moral fortitude, if people cannot afford to make the change to electricity and renewables, goals like the UK’s are not going to be possible. 

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