BEIS has halved its projections for new gas power capacity by 2035 compared to its forecasts last year, according to analysis by Carbon Brief

The government has downgraded its forecasts for new gas power capacity coming online between now and 2035, and is predicting renewables and nuclear power will increase their dominance of the electricity mix, a new analysis has found.

New BEIS energy and emissions forecasts that were analysed by the Carbon Brief website yesterday suggest the Department has cut its projections for the amount of new gas plants needed by 2035 by more than half since publishing its previous forecasts last year.

It suggests a significant downgrading in the government’s appetite for new fossil fuel infrastructure, with low carbon sources of electricity expected to overtake gas as the UK’s single largest source of power as soon as 2020.

Moreover, the forecasts show BEIS now expects twice as much renewable energy capacity to come online by 2035 as it did in 2015, as well as twice as much battery storage capacity as it projected just a year ago, the analysis suggests.

“Following a sharp fall in coal fired generation in 2016, the DDM [BEIS’s forecast model] projects a further gradual decline in fossil fuel based generation out to 2035,” the BEIS document states. “This is displaced by more renewables and eventually nuclear based generation with increased imports (via interconnectors) until new nuclear capacity reduces the need for this in the 2030s.”

However, Carbon Brief said details of the methodology behind the government’s projections are “relatively opaque”, even if further information on how the projections were developed is expected to be released later this year.

The figures also show there still remains a gap in the overall CO2 cuts needed to meet statutory carbon reduction targets from 2023 onwards.

While the government still expects to meet the second and third carbon budgets, for the fourth carbon budget – 2023 to 2027 – UK emissions “are currently projected to be greater than the cap set by the budget, so a shortfall remains against this target”, the BEIS document states.

The government’s Clean Growth Strategy, published in October, had also conceded a gap currently exists, but suggested future innovation and policy changes could help make up the shortfall.