How we develop scenarios

With an ambitious target for net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050, the energy system around us is rapidly transforming.

FES has an important role to play in helping to make the UK’s ambition a reality.

FES considers factors like decarbonisation and societal change to develop potential pathways for what the future of energy could look like; and how we could decarbonise our energy system.

We’ll be using the Scenario Framework from last year for FES 2021.

The scenarios for FES 2021

Our Future Energy Scenarios set out a range of pathways for the development of the energy sector between today and 2050. FES 2020 was the first year that these included full scenarios meeting the 2050 net zero target.

Last year we changed our scenario framework in order to better represent the major uncertainties in a world aiming for net zero, this involved new scenarios and a new vertical axis on our framework diagram – level of societal change.

For FES 2021 we are retaining the same scenarios and framework as used in FES 2020.





The speed of decarbonisation axis combines policy, economics and consumer attitudes. Each scenario shows a different level of progress towards decarbonisation from today. The scenarios in the centre of the matrix meet the 2050 net zero target. Those on the right meet the target early, and those on left miss the target.

The level of societal change axis means we can explore different solutions for decarbonisation of heat as well as changes in: consumer engagement, levels of energy efficiency and a ‘supply-led vs demand-led’ approach. Scenarios close to the bottom of the axis involve lower levels of energy efficiency improvements, less change in heating technology, and lower levels of consumer flexibility. Scenarios closer to the top of the axis involve greater impact on consumers, with bigger changes to heating systems and insulation, and more consumer flexibility in helping to manage peak demand and intermittent generation.

We have retained a four scenario and two axis structure to make comparison with previous years’ frameworks easier. Security of supply standards for both gas and electricity are achieved across all four scenarios.

Our modelling methods


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Download the FES 2022 Stakeholder Feedback Document

Read this year’s Stakeholder Feedback Document to see the engagement that has taken place and the insight we have gathered for FES 2022.

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Explore previous scenarios from our archive

The FES archive dates back to 2011, and all of our documents are available for download.