Horizon Scanning

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Since the work undertaken by the ERP on Energy Innovation Milestones in 2010 there have been radical changes in the international energy sector including but not limited to:

  • the impact of fracking on US Energy Security and its potential role on global gas markets in the coming decades;
  • the disruptive impact of falling costs of decentralised energy systems which in turn is questioning the longevity  of the centralised utility business model around which many of the decarbonisation agendas have been orientated;
  • the participation of information technology organisations into the energy sector potentially facilitating smart systems and demand side response; and
  • the interdependency of economically critical infrastructure – especially energy based ones – on the resilience of nation states in the face of extreme events.
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In the UK, energy policy space the gap between mega top down design and micro bottom up initiatives – particularly the space covered by municipal authorities – has become more evident.  This has highlighted the omission of the impact of non-incremental and social equity issues in UK energy policy design.  There has also been a substantial increase in the business models and actors who have until only recently played a passive or marginal role in energy system change.  The implementation of an increasingly broad suite of low carbon policy and energy systems research has also allowed a better idea to be developed as to the implications of attempting to transform the UK energy system in such a tight timescale in a liberalised and regulated energy market.

Many of the present suite of policies and research are, however, based on a set of mega trends and uncertainties established in scenarios developed some time ago.  There is a need to integrate the most recent developments into the work of ERP, those of the members and the broader energy space.

The project aim is to: identify what the main uncertainties that will impact international and UK energy sector development which might need to be considered over a number of timeframes.

Project Outputs

The project will deliver the following:

  • A living document will be developed on an ongoing basis on a shared site as the project develops;
  • Changes Slide Decks and Summary paper for assessments undertaken of different sectors of the energy system;
  • Scenarios from key issues picked up in the horizon scanning component of the project will be produced;
  • Energy, Policy and Financial Modelling based on one of the scenarios will potentially be produced by The Grantham Institute, UKERC and the Carbon Tracker Initiative, respectively; and
  • Overarching Final Report in the format of the ERP Energy Innovation Milestones Report with accompanying slide deck targeted at policy makers and industry.The ERP Energy Innovation Milestones work might be turned into a Grantham Briefing Note to appeal to a broader policy audience.

Conclusions & Recommendations


Follow-up activities & Impact

The work is to be synchronised with the Committee on Climate Change’s 5th Carbon Budget (2028 – 2032) recommendation for December 2015 and the Carbon Plan that will be developed in government to meet the carbon budget in Q1 and 2 in 2016.

Steering Group

Project Chair: Professor Jim Watson – Research Director UKERC

Steering Group:

  • Dr Jeff Hardy – Ofgem
  • Dr Geoff Darch – Atkins
  • Jim Maltby – DSTL
  • Alyssa Gilbert – Grantham Institute

Steering Group Advisor:

  • Dr Wendy Schultz – Infinite Futures

Further information

Please contact ERP.

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