National Grid, the UK’s largest utility company, has produced a number of energy transition scenarios, among which “2 degrees” is the most aggressive in terms of decarbonization. This paper presents the results of a combined prospective net energy and environmental life cycle assessment of the UK electricity grid, based on such a scenario. The main findings are that the strategy is effective at drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions (albeit to a reduced degree with respect to the projected share of “zero carbon” generation taken at face value), but it entails a trade-off in terms of depletion of metal resources. The grid’s potential toxicity impacts are also expected to remain substantially undiminished with respect to the present. Overall, the analysis indicates that the “2 degrees” scenario is environmentally sound and that it even leads to a modest increase in the net energy delivered to society by the grid (after accounting for the energy investments required to deploy all technologies).
Kamran, MashaelHutchinson, Allan
School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics
Year of publication: 2020Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-05-06