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“Whole society” definition needed for net zero says grid operator

Published April 16, 2020

“Whole society” definition needed for net zero says grid operator

The National Grid Electricity System Operator has called for a common “whole society” definition for net zero. 

The recommendation is made in a report, ‘Our Future Energy Scenarios: Bridging the gap to net zero programme.’  The report looks at what needs to happen in order to meet the goal of net zero by 2050.  

The report says: “A common definition for ‘net zero across the whole system’ must be applied to ensure that decisions across industry and policy are being made using consistent foundations.” 

Where possible, the ESO will work with stakeholders on the development of a shared definition for net zero across the whole system. Initial thoughts are to be published by July 2020. 

The report summarises work done in the last six months to tackle areas of uncertainty highlighted by FES 2019, build consensus, and recommend rapid actions to meet the UK’s net zero by 2050 target. 

The scenarios tackle three topics: energy from biomass, electric vehicles facilitating renewables growth, and managing peak heat demand.  

The report illustrates the importance of taking a whole system definition of net zero to understand the potential need for negative greenhouse gas emissions in different sectors.  

Remaining emissions in hard to decarbonise sectors such as agriculture, aviation, and industry mean negative emissions are required elsewhere. These negative emissions are provided by bioenergy with carbon capture (BECCS) and hence require significant amounts of biomass. Different definitions of net zero lead to a lack of clarity, particularly when discussing competing uses for biomass. 

ESO will work with stakeholders to produce a ‘Defining net zero’ thought piece by July 2020. This will address these issues in an accessible way.  

The main body of the report focuses on the key conclusions from each topic of work and the associated recommendations for action, as well as highlighting what the ESO will be doing in each area.  

Our Future Energy Scenarios: Bridging the gap to net zero programme. 

Source [National Grid]