The UK Government Publishes Annual Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections

The UK Government annually publishes the countries projected energy and greenhouse gas emissions, monitoring progress towards meeting the national carbon budget and informing energy policy. The 2018 update has been published, basing assumptions on a variety of variables including future economic growth, fossil fuel prices, electrical generation costs and the national population.

The UK has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, based on 1990 levels. These emissions have fallen 40% since this date, with Governments launching a variety of different initiatives to expand the economy whilst lowering such emissions. The latest, the Clean Growth Strategy, sets out plans to decarbonise the economy to 2032. The annual report analyses the UKs energy and greenhouse gas projections, providing data on where the UK stands in meeting its legally binding carbon reduction targets, which are set every 5-years.

Two types of emissions are included, ‘traded’ emissions and ‘non-traded’ emissions. Traded emissions are those that are sourced from activities that fall under the European Unions Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), incorporating power generation and other carbon intensive industrial operations such as oil refining, cement, steel and large-scale chemicals manufacturing. This data is relatively simple to assess as effective reporting mechanisms are in place to monitor how much emissions are being produced. Non-traded emissions are more difficult to monitor, thanks to the sheer amount of different sources that falls under this label Therefore creating projections is more complex and relies on a large number of different variables, including as economic growth, weather conditions, energy prices and the population itself.

The report states that between 2017 and 2018 little has changed regarding the UKs projected energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The UK has met its previous carbon budgets and this is expected to continue based on the projections. New technologies such as large-scale battery storage could further improve the UKs emission reductions, though this is difficult to predict. A key variable in these projections is the health of the economy and this is also difficult to predict, particularly with complex political and societal issues such as Brexit.

Government policy has a key role to play in lowering emission projections. Such drivers include the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, improving vehicle efficiency policies and f-gas regulations. The introduction of Smart Meters and expanding the Renewable Heat Incentive is also projected to have small role in lowering emissions projections. Total electrical demand is projected to increase slowly, though the largest increases are seen in the domestic and service sectors. The industrial sectors energy demand is anticipated to decrease, in part thanks to energy efficiency measures such as implementing more efficient equipment. Significant increases are expected in the renewable sector regarding electricity supply, with all forms of fossil fuel generation projected to decrease. Nuclear power is also anticipated to increase in generation.

In conclusion, the UK is anticipated to meet its carbon budgets due to a variety of different measures. Electrical supply is continually becoming decarbonised, whilst industrial emissions are lowering thanks to increases in energy efficiency.  The report was published by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in April 2019 and is part of the annual obligation for the UK to assess and address its energy and emissions projects.

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Full report published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy: