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The UK will need another 120GW of clean energy capacity to reach its legally-binding target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, with more than 100GW of that from wind and solar.

That’s the word according to the latest research by Aurora Energy Research, which notes that wind and solar, which currently make up 33GW of the UK’s energy mix, will grow to over 140GW in 2050.

Approximately 20GW of the new capacity will be required from nuclear, and a further 3GW of carbon capture and storage (CCS) resources.

The research also stresses the importance of short-duration storage such as batteries and pumped hydropower, noting its importance due to the intermittent nature of wind and solar, with approximately 30GW of storage capacity required.

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Aurora’s report recommends that in the absence of traditional gas power, alternative long-duration clean storage technologies including flow batteries, air storage, hydrogen storage or gas plants equipped with CCS would be required to fill in longer periods with no wind or sun.

The report points out 185TWh of “excess” power generated each year, and recommends this additional capacity be used for the production of green hydrogen, for use in decarbonising Britain’s heat, transport and industrial sectors.

Ana Barillas, Principal at Aurora Energy Research, said: “The UK has set an ambitious target to deliver a net zero economy by 2050. We estimate that over 100GWs of new wind and solar capacity will be required to deliver this in the power sector.

“This poses significant changes for operation of the power system – ensuring that the lights stay on despite the fluctuations in renewables output. Achieving this will require up to 30GW of short duration storage and 20GW of longer duration firm capacity.”

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European Utility Week
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