The UK power sector must become carbon-negative by the mid-2030s if the country is to meet its legally binding goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, according to a new report from National Grid.

At least 3GW of wind and 1.4GW of solar will need to be installed annually for the next 30 years to hit this target, adds the electricity system operator’s Future Energy Scenarios 2020 report — up from the 2.2GW of wind and 500MW of solar installed last year.

By 2050, it adds, wind, solar, nuclear and BECCS (carbon-negative bioenergy with carbon capture and storage) will need to provide more than 90% of Britain’s electricity, with offshore wind expected to have the largest share of capacity.

“Without negative emissions from [BECCS], net zero cannot be achieved,” the report explains, as there will still be “residual emissions” from aviation and shipping by mid-century.

The study highlights four “headline messages”:

1) Reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable, but “requires immediate action across all key technologies and policy areas, and full engagement across society and end consumers”. Heat decarbonisation is singled out as requiring “urgent policy decisions to drive change”.

2) Hydrogen and CCS need to be deployed, with industrial-scale demonstration projects operational in the 2020s — and both sectors requiring policy support to incentive their build-outs.

3) Electricity markets “must evolve to provide incentives for investment in flexibility and zero carbon generation”.

4) Digitalisation and open-access data will “underpin the whole system thinking [which will be] key to navigating increasing complexity at lowest cost for consumers”.

The study, which details three net-zero scenarios, says hydrogen — produced via renewables-powered electrolysis with electrolysis, and natural gas with CCS — will account for 21-59% of end-user energy needs by 2050.

It adds that millions of electric vehicle batteries will supply up to 38GW of renewables flexibility through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology; and that the decarbonisation of residential heating will require all homes to switch from natural-gas boilers to hydrogen boilers, electric heat pumps or hybrid heat pumps (which use both H2 and electricity). Unabated fossil fuels will need to be phased out in all sectors, except for aviation and shipping.

The National Grid study shows that despite Brexit, the UK will have to adopt very similar carbon-reduction policies to the EU, which set out its path to phasing out fossil fuels earlier this month in its Energy System Integration Strategy.