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in the industry (up to £330billion by 2030). It also requires a high degree of political cohesion and direction. However, this scenario would be possible if the Eurozone and UK economy return to growth, with more trade integration; specialisation; a focus on green growth and productivity gains; and recovered financial institutions. This scenario also sees the EU remain a market leader in low-carbon technology.


GAS IS KEY This scenario explores a dash for conventional gas generation during the 2010s and puts the greening of the power sector lower down the priority list, making way for economic growth and competitiveness. This heavy reliance on gas will lead to short-term price gains followed by environmental problems. The demand for gas- fired power generation reduces the need for a big overhaul of the infrastructure, but this leads to costly action further down the line when carbon emissions constraints bite.

Once the economy is back on track in the early 2020s, the political direction changes in response to committed international agreements

to tackle climate change. The result is a programme to retrofit the relatively new gas-fired power stations with carbon capture and storage which, by the end of the 2020s, has converted up to a quarter of the conventional plant.

This scenario depends less on what happens economically in the Eurozone and internationally, and requires relaxed political action in Europe on carbon emissions reduction, fewer productivity gains and more fractured trade patterns. The investment required to deliver this scenario is much lower than for ‘Hitting the target’.


AUSTERITY REIGNS The third scenario is less optimistic about the economic and technological outlook. Confidence among investors is low, but less investment is needed due to stagnation in UK and European business. This means there is no driving force behind infrastructure upgrades and the power grid ages. Some technologies like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and shale gas fail technologically or otherwise are not delivered. In the meantime,

the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) motor ahead.

Here, the lowest cost options are pursued. A price on carbon emissions remains in place, but at a low level so there is no incentive to move to cleaner generation types. This means new coal-fired plants are built and there is no urgency behind low-carbon technologies, including nuclear power. This is the cheapest scenario, with the investment total at around £130billion.

PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE The npower Future Report clearly

shows there is still uncertainty as to what the future will bring for those responsible for energy management. Whatever the business operating environment looks like in 2030, those who can influence energy management on a practical level should act now to prepare their organisations for this uncertain future and protect themselves from risk.

You can see the full report at


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