78GW by 2030 scenario for UK

The UK could have up to 77.8GW and as little as 37.5GW of renewables by 2030 under a set of scenarios released by the national grid operator.

In National Grid's most optimistic scenario, 15% of the country's energy will come from renewables by 2020 and there will be an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However, in the worst case, the 2020 national renewables target is missed and there is pressure to abandon carbon targets.

The company's annual Future Energy Scenarios give insights into the British energy sector in 2020, 2030 and beyond. It does not "forecast" where the industry will be in the next 15 years, but after broadening its range of scenarios from two to four since last year, National Grid is presenting "plausible and credible" potential futures and solid foundations for decision-makers and policymakers, says Richard Smith, head of energy strategy and policy.

"The four scenarios are used as a reference point that enables National Grid to identify where potential investments will be required in the future," he adds.

In the Gone Green scenario, with a growing economy and a high emphasis on sustainability, the UK will have strong policy and regulation and new post-2020 targets, all of which are met on time. A strong post-2020 policy encourages investments in renewables in this scenario, with new targets for 2020-50.

Of the potential 77.8GW of renewables in this scenario by 2030, more than 50GW would come from from wind.

By 2030 there will be 31.9GW of offshore wind and 19.1GW onshore. According to this scenario, national PV capacity will reach 16.5GW.

At the other end, the Slow Progression envisages a slow economic recovery, but with a similar strong focus on policy and regulation and new targets. Uncertainty and financial constraints lead to difficult political decisions in this scenario. Although there is political will and market intervention, 2020 targets will be missed and new European targets introduced.

Of the 60.4GW of renewables, more than half will come from offshore and onshore wind.

In the No Progression scenario, there will be low affordability and low sustainability, with a slow economic recovery and less emphasis on policy and regulation, which remain the same as today, and no new targets. Of the possible 37.5GW of renewables, less than 22GW will be wind, with a mere 8.3GW of solar by 2030.

Low Carbon Life is the scenario in which more money is available due to higher economic growth and there is short-term volatility in energy policy and no additional targets are introduced. Of the 62.2GW of renewables, 40GW will be wind and 17GW solar.