Heat pumps and EVs could become central to life within a decade

An electric heat pump revolution could be firmly established within a decade, according to new research published by UK Power Networks.

The electricity firm forecasts that by 2030 there could be over 700,000 electric heat pumps across London, the East and South East, as well as up to 4.5 million EVs.

These are among 1.6 million forecast data points published by the company in its 2021 Distribution Future Energy Scenarios research about how low carbon technologies could be taken up in future. It maps four different potential ‘scenario worlds’ up to 2050 with bespoke regional modelling and data analysis provided by energy consultancy Element Energy.

One scenario suggests more than 3,000% growth in electric vehicles and a 2,500% rise in domestic heat pumps by 2030, which would keep the UK on track to reach its target of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 and be a clear sign of a green recovery.

Another scenario sees slowing economic growth but still results in a quarter of a million household solar panels being installed, aggregate grid scale battery storage capacity more than double that of the UK’s largest nuclear power station, and a move towards a zero carbon hydrogen gas grid.

Prices of electric vehicles continuing to fall, along with the government’s ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, could accelerate sales of new electric vehicles and vans. A more ambitious ‘Leading the Way’ scenario reaches Net Zero carbon emissions two years early, by 2048. It predicts 4.2 million fewer cars overall on roads than the other scenarios as more people choose to use public transport. It also experiences a much faster roll out of heat pumps, reaching 1.2 million electric heat pumps in UK Power Networks’ areas by 2030.

Sul Alli, director of customer services, strategy and regulation at UK Power Networks, says: “The Government’s 10 Point Plan has signalled an acceleration of the UK’s transition to a net zero carbon economy. We are determined to be at the forefront in our industry and make sure no customers in the areas we serve are left behind.

“That’s why we’ve worked hand in hand with local authorities and partners to deliver this project. By understanding how the future might look, we can innovate, plan, prepare and invest strategically to make our network ready for net zero.”

Paul Connell, founder and head of Innovation at ODI Leeds, part of the Open Data Institute, comments: “This is a fabulous demonstration of the power of working in the open. We have used the open data UK Power Networks has published to build a visualisation that arguably creates 10 times more impact than a report.”

Ian Walker, Director of Element Energy, says: “We’re delighted to support UK Power Networks in creation of their Distributed Future Energy Scenarios. The DFES significantly enhances visibility of the range of possible outcomes for the impact of the Net Zero transition on electricity networks and provides a key tool to enable UK Power Networks to plan for these outcomes and facilitate Net Zero.”

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