National Grid’s net zero vision ‘over-reliant’ on bioenergy with CCS, report claims

All National Grid’s net zero pathways rely on significant BECCS capacity to generate ‘negative emissions’, claims think tank Ember

National Grid’s plans to decarbonise the UK power grid risk being “severely undermined” by an over-reliance on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology to produce ‘negative emissions’, which could make it extremely challenging to achieve the network operator’s 2050 net-zero goal, think-tank Ember has claimed.

The climate NGO said it had analysed all four of the future pathways for delivering a net zero UK power sector by 2050 set out in National Grid ESO’s most recent Future Energy Scenarios (FES) report earlier this year, which is published annually in a bid to provide a comprehensive look at progress of the UK’s energy transition.

National Grid’s projections assume residual emissions from the UK power sector of around 52Mt of CO2 in 2050 as a result of difficulties in decarbonising waste, aviation, shipping, agriculture and land-use – emissions which would therefore need offsetting in order to achieve net zero, it said.

But in all four scenarios, it said, the network operator’s projections are heavily dependent on substantial capacity for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in order to offset those residual emissions elsewhere, despite the technology having yet to operate at scale in the UK.

BECCS technology promises to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than is emitted during the energy generating process, by burning waste from forestry management or specially-cultivated biomass energy crops to generate power while capturing the resulting

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