The UK has ambitious, statutory long-term climate targets that will require deep decarbonisation of its energy system. One key question facing policymakers is the role of natural gas both during the transition towards, and in the achievement of, a future low-carbon energy system. Here we assess a range of possible futures for the UK, and find that gas is unlikely to act as a cost-effective ‘bridge’ to a decarbonised UK energy system. There is also limited scope for gas in power generation after 2030 if the UK is to meet its emission reduction targets, in the absence of carbon capture and storage (CCS). Without CCS, a ‘second dash for gas’ while providing short-term gains in reducing emissions, is unlikely to be the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, and could result in stranded assets and compromise the UK's decarbonisation ambitions. In such a case, gas use in 2050 is estimated at only 10% of its 2010 level. However, with significant CCS deployment by 2050, natural gas could remain at 50–60% of the 2010 level, primarily in the industrial (including hydrogen production) and power generation sectors.
Energy Policy – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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