Northern Ireland - High Gasification 2050

  • Northern Ireland 2050
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Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has created ETM scenarios to explore policy options for their new Energy Strategy. The body responsible for advising the UK and devolved governments on climate change – the Climate Change Committee (CCC) – has advised that Northern Ireland’s contribution is an 82% reduction in all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The CCC has advised that an 82% reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions is consistent with net zero carbon in Northern Ireland. As almost all (96%) of energy-related emissions are carbon, the focus in the Energy Strategy is to achieve net zero carbon-energy by 2050.

On 31 March 2021 Minister Diane Dodds has launched the Policy Options Consultation Paper for the new Energy Strategy. For more information on this consultation have a look on the website of the Department for the Economy of Northern Ireland. On this page you can also find a detailed report presenting the assumptions behind their scenarios. This report describes different plausible energy system transition pathways for NI to achieve net zero carbon-energy by 2050. This report analyses the development of the NI energy system across four scenarios:

  1. Business as Usual
  2. High Electrification
  3. High Gasification
  4. Diverse

High Gasification

With a greater focus on gas, overall demand for electricity is lower meaning RES-E targets are higher due to the need for less additional generation capacity. This scenario has a target of 80% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% by 2050. There is a large emphasis on off-shore wind mainly used for hydrogen production. Gas is imported for flexible electricity generation alongside the large renewables base. The gas network is fully decarbonised with a mix of hydrogen and biomethane and is expanded to reach a larger percentage of the population. As demand for hydrogen and biomethane is high, only some of which can be met locally due to the quantum need, there is considerable reliance on imports.

Energy efficiency improvements are supported consistently and the energy performance of buildings improves, however these measures are less ambitious than in the high electrification scenario, as thermal comfort can be provided without the high levels of energy efficiency required by heat pumps. The car and van fleet is powered by a mix of hydrogen and electrification with larger vehicles use mostly hydrogen. This is supported by significant investment in refuelling infrastructure.

Key assumptions are:

  • Continued connect to existing gas network, with substantial amounts of hydrogen and biomethane injected by 2050.
  • Off gas grid properties are heated using heat pumps and biofuels.
  • Road vehicles decarbonised with a high % of electric cars and vans coupled with a high % of hydrogen-powered buses and HGVs.
  • RES-E target 80% in 2030 achieved, 100% in 2050.
  • Lower final energy demand through:
    • Substantial increase in energy efficiency measures across domestic and non-domestic sectors;
    • Some reduction in energy consumption due to increased awareness and behavioural change amongst the population.

Further details on the sources of all data items utilised to build the base year for 2018 are available at the ETM Library.

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