Great Britain’s national grid will start being powered free from fossil fuels by 2025, its operator has announced.
A report from the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said by 2025 it will have transformed the way the electricity system operates, so that when there is enough zero-carbon generation available, it can deliver electricity to Great Britain without using any fossil fuels.
Professor Rob Gross, director of the UK Energy Research Centre and Professor of Energy Policy and Technology at Imperial College, called it “a major step forward”.
He told Sky News: “Just a few years ago anti-wind campaigners were claiming wind or solar could only play a small role in power supply because they are unreliable. They have been proved wrong.”
The term “zero-carbon” means that the technology emits no carbon, such as which solar, wind, wave, nuclear.
In 2019, these zero-carbon sources of electricity outstripped fossil-fuelled generation for the first time ever.
Professor Keith Bell from Strathclyde University’s engineering department said that renewable sources of electricity such as wind and solar are now the cheapest, but, like the weather, can very wildly.
The grid needs to be able to meet demand for power whatever the weather, which means being able to store that energy. It is also often disrupted by the weather or technical problems.
When this happens, it relies on fossil fuel powered machinery to stabilise the system, meaning it has to retain access to gas even if there were enough zero carbon power to meet demand.
But National Grid ESO said it was working to find new ways to keep the grid stable – such as from hydropower stations, or repurposed gas turbines.
Prof. Bell said low carbon energy supply was “essential to our future”.
He said this matters to the public, because an example of when the control can go wrong was when 1.1. million electricity users in Britain suddenly lost their supply in August 2019, which severely disrupted trains in south east England.
Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.
The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.
Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.
The show also highlights solutions to the crisis and how small changes can make a big difference.