A new study has revealed that the investment in sustainable on-site power generated by UK businesses has the potential to replace imported natural gas by 2035, helping the country to realise its ambition of becoming energy independent and keep its net zero targets on track.
The report, ‘The future of energy – the critical role of business in a zero carbon world’, investigated different sustainable on-site generation scenarios – including wind, solar photovoltaic (PV), battery storage, biogas and biomethane – to assess whether they could feasibly replace the electricity generated from imported natural gas by 2035.
npower Business Solutions (nBS) commissioned Dr Gabriel D. Oreggioni of Imperial College London – working independently via Imperial Consultants – to produce the modelling. It was based on the projection from the UK Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget that, by 2035, the UK would require 16 TWh of power from imported natural gas.
It showed that, by 2035, businesses-generated power could achieve:
- On-site wind capacity between 6 and 29 GW;
- Installed roof-top solar PV of 6.5 GW;
- Biogas power generation up to 16 TWhe;
- Hydrogen and biomethane injection of 33 and 7.5 TWh, respectively.
The report also suggested that, depending on the scenario, the overall levelised cost of electricity could range between £49 and £261/MWh – lower than current wholesale prices – and emissions savings of up 6.7 MtCO2/year could be achieved, resulting in a huge contribution to achieving the UK’s net zero goal.
Anthony Ainsworth, COO at nBS, commented: “For more than a year, the UK energy market has experienced a period of unprecedented volatility, with resulting high wholesale prices impacting all businesses, alongside questions around energy stability. Earlier this year, our Business Energy Tracker revealed that 77% of businesses put energy as their top business risk. It also showed that, to protect themselves from this risk, many businesses are installing sustainable on-site generation to both reduce emissions and increase resiliency.
“So, we wanted to explore this further - what if there was a future where businesses are not only more self-sufficient, but where the power they generate could help reduce energy costs and the UK’s reliance on imported natural gas?
“For businesses, it also shows the investment decisions they make now when it comes to sustainable on-site generation could reap rewards today and into the not too distant future including lower energy costs, increased resiliency, reduced emissions and a more stable power supply.”
The report also concluded that there would need to be policy interventions from the government to unlock the power potential of business. These include streamlining planning rules and more tax incentives to enable businesses invest in sustainable on-site generation. Anthony Ainsworth again: “Short-term plans are in place to support businesses this winter, with the Energy Bill Relief Scheme providing some protection against rising prices. “However, there is also a need for a longer term approach, both in terms of incentivising energy efficiency and encouraging more businesses to consider investing in sustainable on-site generation.