What could the UK energy system look like in 2050?

How could our path to net zero unfold?
What could the UK energy system look like in 2050?

A net zero energy system is achieved when we reduce and remove emissions from energy use to zero.

Today, over 80% of UK emissions come from burning fossil fuels for energy use and most of the energy is delivered by companies to consumers.

We need to cut emissions by more than half in the next 10-15 years to stay on course to reach net zero. For this we will need to transform our energy system.

While fossil fuels will still play a role, albeit much smaller than today, low carbon fuels will power our transport, buildings and industries. Carbon capture will help remove residual emissions. And new technologies will improve energy efficiency and reduce energy waste.

Local low carbon energy sources, such as rooftop solar panels and battery storage, and smart grids would allow consumers to supply energy to each other and the UK grid, creating a more interconnected, data driven and flexible energy system.

The UK has a long way to go to meet net zero by 2050 and the scale of energy infrastructure and behavioural change we need is huge.

Watch our short animation video to understand what our UK energy system could look like and how it might change between now and then.

Read transcript

What might the UK’s energy transition journey to 2050 look like?

Today’s energy system is dominated by fossil fuels. In the UK, natural gas is mainly used for power generation and heat and oil is used for transport. But things are changing.

Electricity is getting greener, and the number of Electric vehicles is rising. But heat pumps are yet to make an impact in domestic heating.

Now, in 2035, North Sea oil and gas production continues to decline and almost all our electricity is low carbon. Industry and some power plants use low carbon hydrogen and capture carbon dioxide to store under the sea. Heat pumps are more common, and people sell electricity to each other and the national grid. More electric vehicles than petrol and diesel are on the road. Heavy transport embraces electricity and hydrogen.

Here, in 2050, the sea is now a major source of electricity and hydrogen and stores more carbon dioxide. Wind, solar and nuclear provide almost all our electricity, with a small portion coming from gas and biomass supported by carbon capture. The UK energy system is more complex with different fuel sources and greater interconnection. Most transport will run on electricity, hydrogen, and sustainable fuels.

Get in touch to discuss how we can get there.

Deloitte UK Energy System. Our path to net zero.

The story in the video was created using UK government targets and published industry forecasts. It is not a prediction.

We look at the latest data on UK emissions reduction from energy use, energy mix and low carbon energy targets on our web page that asks Where is the UK on its energy transition journey?​

How will this transformation impact you?

Get in touch to discuss your energy transition journey and how to embrace the opportunities and overcome the challenges along the way.

Julian Small

UK Energy, Resources & Industrials Leader

Daniel Grosvenor

UK Power, Utilities & Renewables Leader

Tim Archer

UK Climate & Sustainability Leader