By 2050 the UK will need to be meeting stringent targets requiring an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions, whilst maintaining a sufficient supply of energy. In order to appropriately assess the opportunities for meeting these targets it is necessary to understand, amongst other things, the costs and performance of the energy infrastructure that will carry energy from where it is generated to where it is consumed.
The targets are challenging and with the power sector expected to bear no small amount of the burden of reducing CO2 emissions, whilst, at the same time, needing to meet an anticipated increase in demand, maximising efficiency (in terms of both cost and energy) is crucial. This includes maximising the efficiency of the fixed infrastructure that sits between the generation plant (such as wind turbines or thermal power stations) and the various pointsof demand within the UK’s energy system (such as domestic, commercial and industrial buildings). Whilst the majority of this fixed infrastructure is currently for electricity or gas, this Project will have a more expansive scope and also consider hydrogen and heat infrastructure.
The 2050 Energy Infrastructure Outlook project provides data on the costs associated with key types of fixed energy infrastructure as well as identifying possible ‘grey areas’ where technology development could significantly influence cost and performance. The project gathered data on different types of infrastructure associated with electricity, gas, hydrogen and heat. It also looked at infrastructure types: transmission, distribution, storage, conversion and connections. The data itself looked at costs relating to capital, fixed/variable operating and maintenance, abandonment (‘infrastructure decommissioning’) and repurposing (‘altering existing infrastructure’).