A blog by Christianna Logan, Networks Insights Manager

Back in the summer we published out first ever view on the future of energy in the north of Scotland. Because of the significant uncertainty on future energy demand and supply, we produced three scenarios:

Proactive Decarbonisation – the most ambitious scenario for decarbonisation, this would see targets surpassed through action across a range of sectors.  Crucially, this scenario would deliver a decarbonisation pathway for the north of Scotland in line with that required globally to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as the Paris Agreement aspires to and which the UK is actively pursuing efforts to achieve.

Local Optimisation – whilst maintaining the broad decarbonisation ambition of the Proactive Decarbonisation scenario, the speed and scale of ambition shifts towards a greater role for local, small scale solutions, with greater emphasis placed on energy decentralisation and democratisation. 

Cost Limitation – in this scenario a stagnant economy leads to a greatly reduced ambition to tackle climate change with affordability instead the primary focus of priority for consumers and policy makers.

At a recent industry event, attendees were asked to vote on which of the scenarios they thought was most likely to occur, the votes were evenly split across all three scenarios, showing the importance of planning for a range of outcomes in an uncertain future. For more information about how these scenarios were developed and how they will be used for planning the transmission network in the north of Scotland please visit: https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/information-centre/industry-and-regulation/future-energy-scenarios/

We live in a fast changing world, and since we published the scenarios, further major developments have already occurred:

  • the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published its report showing more rapid action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid devastating risks of climate change to health and global prosperity;
  • the UK government asked the Committee on Climate Change for advice on a roadmap to a net zero economy; and
  • the Scottish Government committed to the development of 20 Electric Towns before 2025.

And locally, new signals on energy trends are becoming apparent:

We are seeing an increase in applications for battery energy storage connections to our network, with over 170MW of offers made or progressing since April 2018.

  • We are seeing an increase in applications for solar connections to our network, with over 140MW of offers made or progressing since July 2018.
  • We saw total and average residential and industrial and commercial gas demand increase from 2015 to 2016.

This highlights the need for us to keep our scenarios ‘live’ and up-to-date to reflect these and ongoing changes in our energy world. In particular, over the next 9 months we have set objectives to (i) update our scenarios for material policy or customer-driven changes, and (ii) expand the scope of the scenarios to incorporate new variables that we were not able to model in the first version. Our proposed focus topics over the next nine months are:

  • Industrial and commercial energy demand,
  • Electricity storage and hydrogen, and
  • Electric and low carbon heating.

We will start later this month with an update on our Energy Trends report and follow this with consultations and engagements to gather fresh insight on new areas. We are really interested to hear from stakeholders that would like to be involved in these discussions or to propose additional topics for us to consider.

If you’d like to feed in, please contact: imran.p.mohammed@sse.com

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