The UK needs to find new ways to get communities behind the energy transition and overcome ‘nimbyism’ opposition to development of crucial generation and network infrastructure, said senior industry executives as a new study predicted the nation is on course to miss its 2050 net zero target.

Global energy consultancy DNV’s first UK Energy Transition Outlook highlighted a range of obstacles to the nation hitting its legally binding mid-century goal, as well as 2030 emissions reduction commitments made under the Paris Agreement.

Alongside calls for “a committed roadmap” from the British government, DNV and experts assembled to discuss the report’s findings said getting the population onside would be decisive.

“Put simply, the UK net zero 2050 goals will not be met without massive community support and personal actions,” said the study.

Hari Vamadevan, regional director, UK & Ireland, Energy Systems at DNV, told Recharge that factors such as planning restrictions and local engagement are “the greatest problem today with anything onshore” when it comes to adding crucial infrastructure.

Part of addressing that could be “regional energy hubs with regional energy pricing, which incentivises local areas to invest in the very energy sources they will benefit from.”

Vamadevan added: “We haven’t quite got that today and as a result there’s a lot of nimbyism.”

The DNV executive’s comments took on added topicality, with the UK government later the same day saying it could ease planning restrictions that have severely curtailed onshore wind development in England.

The DNV outlook highlighted ongoing onshore opposition as one of the factors that will make offshore wind the dominant source of UK green power by 2050.

The study’s authors expect UK on-grid wind to total 147GW by mid-century, up from 25GW now, with offshore wind accounting for 65% of that.

“By 2050, we forecast that wind will power just above two thirds of on-grid electricity generation. In mid-century, close to a fifth (18%) of total electricity generation will be onshore wind, 39% bottom-fixed offshore, and 10% from floating offshore wind farms,” said DNV.

Increasing electrification in areas like electric vehicles means almost half of national energy demand will be met by power by mid-century, it reckons.

On the wider outlook for the UK’s race to net zero, Vamadevan said: “Our UK Energy Outlook report clearly demonstrates that early ambition and action has allowed the UK to make good progress, but unless the government implements a compelling roadmap backed by clear business models and supportive regulatory frameworks, the UK will not meet these targets.

“We firmly believe the UK can meet its 2050 net zero objective, but this will require clear and early policy decisions, particularly focused around the decarbonisation of heating in buildings and transport.”