System View introduction

The UK’s net zero decarbonisation targets are accelerating the growth of new low carbon energy sources. At the same time, energy demands are changing as consumers choose new technologies for heat and transport, and smart technology and digitalisation is driving a change in how consumers interact with energy. 

The System View chapter considers the interactions between energy supply and demand and the implications of energy choices presented in the Consumer View chapter. We explore the links between primary energy inputs, and transformations between different energy carriers that will be needed as the whole energy system transitions to a low carbon future.

A full, detailed version of this section can be found in the 2021 FES document:

FES 2021 interactive document

FES 2021 print ready document

Car driving on country road between fields

Bioenergy

Bioenergy comes from renewable, organic feedstocks, which absorb carbon as they grow, and release it when they are burned to produce heat or power.

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Natural gas

Natural gas remains critical for heating and power generation in the near term for all scenarios, but its use changes significantly in our net zero scenarios from the 2030s, for example to produce hydrogen.

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Hydrogen

Hydrogen plays a role in every net zero scenario as it emits no greenhouse gases at the point of combustion. It is key to ensuring flexibility and security of supply.

Electricity

Power sector carbon emissions are expected to fall rapidly in the early 2020s in all scenarios. In every scenario except Steady Progression, carbon intensity becomes negative for electricity generation by 2035.

Whole system thinking helps decarbonisation

The net zero target requires a more comprehensive way of thinking about the way we use energy. It makes us focus on energy use across society and consider the emissions from its use in all sectors.  
 
The energy flow diagrams on the Net Zero and the Future Energy Scenarios page illustrate how interconnected different energy uses are in a net zero world, where transport is electrified, biofuels are used for planes, and hydrogen heats our homes and buildings. This whole energy system view, where all uses of energy are considered alongside each other, also creates an energy system which is as efficient as possible.  energy flow diagrams illustrate how interconnected different energy uses are in a net zero world, where transport is electrified, biofuels are used for planes, and hydrogen heats our homes and buildings. This whole energy system view, where all uses of energy are considered alongside each other, also creates an energy system which is as efficient as possible.  
 

System View