The UK could increase its ambitions for renewable energy at a lower cost to consumers, new Wärtsilä analysis finds
Wärtsilä, the global technology company, is launching new analysis showing that investment in flexible energy technologies, such as battery energy storage and advanced flexible gas, can rapidly increase the share of renewable generation in the UK by 2030 at a lower overall cost to consumers.
The Energy Transition Lab Report: Optimising the UK’s shift to a renewable-powered economy models the impact of current UK ambitions for renewable energy and shows that adding 7GW flexibility to the UK power system by 2030 can deliver a higher share of renewable generation (62%) than could be possible by adding wind and solar without flexibility.
This flexible scenario could power more than 710,000 more households with renewable energy, cut 2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and cost the UK GBP 270 million less every year by 2030.
It could also save the UK economy GPB 660 million a year when compared with installing another new nuclear plant alongside renewable generation. This is due to the high upfront costs and substantial market interventions required for more nuclear.
The analysis models three scenarios based on the current UK electricity system, energy policy, government pledges on renewable energy growth and predicted growth in renewable generation capacity, to help pin-point the immediate actions the UK can take to accelerate the most cost-effective shift to renewable energy by 2030.
The scenarios model: 1) achieving 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, as pledged by Boris Johnson, together with an anticipated 7GW of new onshore wind and 20GW of solar; 2) adding the same new renewable generation capacity plus 3GW of new nuclear; 3) an alternative scenario with significant new flexibility (7GW) to enable more new renewables (72GW total wind and solar) without increasing costs compared to adding renewables only.
The IEA, UK Energy Systems Catapult and Renewable UK have all recently presented the need for more investment in flexibility on UK networks in order to increase renewable energy.
The Wärtsilä Energy Transition Lab Report makes it clear that installing new flexibility alongside renewable generation by 2030 can deliver more wind and solar power at no additional cost to consumers – indeed it could be cheaper overall. Investment in flexibility also has significant long-term benefits, future-proofing the UK electricity system and supporting an accelerated cost-efficient transition towards 100% renewable power and wider economic decarbonisation by 2050.
Wärtsilä in brief
Wärtsilä is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising sustainable innovation, total efficiency and data analytics, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers. In 2019, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 5.2 billion with approximately 19,000 employees. The company has operations in over 200 locations in more than 80 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.