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7 things to know about the race to Net Zero emissions

27 December 2020


Reaching Net Zero emissions in 2050 is one of the most important and ambitious targets the UK has set, challenging a generation to reconsider how they use energy and interact with the system.

Hitting our target of net zero carbon emissions will require everyone to be more deliberate with their changes, as well as investment in innovative projects and technologies that will help address climate change. With so many targets and dates, facts and figures reported, we’re breaking down some of the big changes and things to know in the race to net zero.

1. Banning petrol and diesel cars will bring an electric vehicle revolution.

Bringing forward the ban on petrol and diesel cars from 2035 to 2030 means car manufacturers need to sell 35% more EVs year on year, amounting to nearly 10 million EVs sold over the next 9 years and making nearly 1 in 3 cars in the UK electric.

2. The energy system needs a large and vital transformation to handle the increase in EVs and other low carbon technologies on the networks.

If all of the 10 million new EVs purchased by 2030 plugged in to charge simultaneously, the UK would require an additional peak capacity of 69GW and 12% more electricity than today by 2030 to handle this shift. Our Open Networks Project is up to the task, helping the transition to a smart, flexible system that allows networks to make the most of local resources.

3. Hydrogen will be delivered into UK homes, businesses, and communities on the world’s first zero carbon gas grid.

We’re making the changes to Britain’s gas grid that are needed to help reduce household gas emissions through our Gas Goes Green programme. 23 million properties and 85% of Britain’s homes are connected to our gas grid, making it one of the most extensive in the world. Recent research found that creating a zero carbon gas grid in the UK is not only possible but that it could help save billpayers up to £13bn a year compared to the alternative methods of decarbonising heat and transport.

4. Houses and families need to reduce emissions significantly for a sustainable future.

In 2016 the average family of four emit nearly 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This needs to reduce by 95% per household to hit net zero emissions by 2050, which is the equivalent of burning 14,443 litres of petrol or driving over 120,000 miles!

5. Networks will create an Internet of Energy by using existing assets instead of building more network, allowing more low carbon technologies to use the electricity network and saving everyone money.

Flexibility Services proved this year that they have a huge role to play in giving networks more headroom to handle the growing number of low carbon technologies on our network. With all the new electric vehicles needing to charge at some point, the networks will be using existing assets like battery storage to proactively manage supply and demand, and businesses and individuals using energy at off-peak times, to manage these new technologies using more electricity.

6. Quicker connections mean faster decarbonisation.

Reaching our climate objectives requires a large and diverse mix of energy, from solar and wind to nuclear and hydrogen. Connecting these new low carbon projects and generation sources, from community projects to large nuclear generation, to the networks as quickly as possible is vital. National Grid is building a 57km new connection to get Hinkley Point C connected, and through our Open Networks Project, Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have been making it quicker and simpler to connect to the grid and provide flexibility services.

7. Investment in new innovative technologies will unlock numerous benefits.

Reaching net zero emissions means investing in the innovative solutions and projects that will make it happen. As ENA's Gas Goes Green programme is delivering the world’s first net zero gas grid, the UK's energy networks welcome the Prime Ministers recent ambition on Carbon Capture, Usage, and Storage (CCUS) as well as hydrogen, in his ten-point plan. Innovative technologies such as CCUS have for a long time been the final piece of the jigsaw needed to hit net zero and will help unlock the volumes of hydrogen needed to decarbonise the UK's hardest to decarbonise sectors.

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About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.

ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.

Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.

What are energy network operators?

Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 40,000 people in Great Britain.

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