Since 2006, researchers at UKERC have been working together on an ambitious project assessing how the UK can move to a resilient (‘secure’) and low-carbon energy system over the period to 2050. The Energy 2050 project brought together a wide range of researchers coming from several disciplines to address a common problem, exploring all dimensions of the possible development of the UK energy system through to 2050. A common set of scenarios was used, making it possible to relate the different elements of the project to each other. While the project relied heavily on scenarios and modelling, it also placed great emphasis on the underlying policy and research questions and the conclusions and implications for action.

The synthesis report launched in 2009 focuses on these aspects of the work, in order to make it more relevant to policy makers and a wider readership. Technical detail is kept to a minimum but is available in the asscoiated book published in December 2010 and the Research Reports that were produced by the various work streams of the project. In 2011 UKERC was motivated to revise the scenarios because a number of projects had been planning to make use of the previous, but increasingly out-dated, UK Energy 2050 scenarios. In 2013 a new UKERC research report was launched which compares the most recent UKERC MARKAL low-carbon scenarios with those produced with earlier versions of the model for UKERC (Energy 2050), the Committee on Climate Change and the Government (Carbon Plan).


UKERC's Energy 2050 Book, Energy 2050 - Making the Transition to a Secure Low-Carbon Energy System, published in December 2010, addresses the UK Government's primary energy policy goals – delivering affordable and reliable energy to consumers, while meeting its legal commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.

The book explores in detail those factors which could help or hinder the attainment of the UK’s climate change targets, and how these factors interact with the parallel objective of maintaining an affordable, robust and secure energy system. The book is the result of a major national energy research effort by UKERC. The results and recommendations are essential reading for policymakers, professionals, researchers, and anyone concerned with achieving large-scale reductions in carbon emissions, both from the UK and internationally.

The book begins by exploring the evolution of the UK energy system over recent decades: the trends, technologies and environmental impacts related to energy use, and the structures and institutions of governance that have influenced this evolution.

It then moves on to changes in energy policy to emphasise decarbonisation and resilience, and introduce the approach to scenarios and modelling used in the rest of the book. Later chapters explore different aspects of the uncertainties that may enable or constrain the creation of a low-carbon, resilient UK energy system, related to accelerated technology development, the creation of an infrastructure to support de-centralised energy and microgeneration, lifestyle and behaviour change, public attitudes and the wider environmental impacts associated with energy system change.

UKERC Research Reports


Related outputs by UKERC Researchers

  • Anable, J., Brand, C., Eyre, N., Layberry, R., Schmelev, S., Strachan, N., Bergman, N., Fawcett, T. and Tran, M. (2010) Energy 2050 – The Lifestyle Scenarios, UKERC Working Paper, forthcoming
  • Anandarajah G., Ekins, P. and Strachan, N. 'Towards a Low-Carbon Economy: Pathways and Policy Requirements', Climate Policy
  • Bergman, N. and Eyre, N. ‘What role for microgeneration in a shift to a low carbon domestic energy sector in the UK?’ Submitted to Energy Efficiency.
  • Bergman, N., Hawkes, A., Brett, D.J.L., Baker, P., Barton, J., Blanchard, R., Brandon, N.P., Infield, D., Jardine, C., Kelly, N., Leach, M., Matian, M., Peacock, A. D., Staffel, I., Sudtharalingam, S. and Woodman, B. (2009) ‘UK micro-generation. Part I: policy and behavioural aspects’, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineerg: Energy, vol 162, pp23–36
  • Bergman, N. (2009) ‘Can micro-generation catalyse behaviour change in the domestic energy sector in the UK?’ in: Broussous, C. and Jover, C., (eds) eceee 2009 Summer Study, 2009 La Colle sur Loup, France, pp21–32
  • Bergman, N. and C. Jardine, (2009) ‘Power from the People: Domestic Microgeneration and the Low Carbon Buildings Programme’ ECI Research Report 34, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, oxford
  • Brand, C. (2010) UK Transport Carbon Model: Reference Guide v1.0. Oxford, UK Energy Research Centre, Energy Demand Theme
  • Brand, C., Tran, M. and Anable, J. (2010) ‘The UK transport carbon model: An integrated lifecycle approach to explore low carbon futures’, Energy Policy, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.08.019
  • Hawkes, A., Staffell, I., Brett, D. and Brandon, N. (2009a) ‘Fuel Cells for Micro-Combined Heat and Power Generation’, Energy and Environmental Science, vol 2, pp729–744
  • Hawkes, A., Brett, D. and Brandon, N. (2009b) ‘Fuel Cell Micro-CHP Techno-Economics: Part 2 – Model Application to Consider the Economic and Environmental Impact of Stack Degradation’, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, vol 34, pp9558–9569
  • Hughes, N., Mers, J. and Strachan, N. (2009) Review and analysis of UK and international low carbon energy scenarios, EON/EPSRC Transition Pathways working paper,
  • Jardine, C. and N. Bergman, (2009) ‘The status of the UK domestic PV market – a review of the impact of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme’ Proceedings of 5th Conference on Photovoltaic Science, Technology and Applications, Wrexham, 1-3 April 2009.
  • Kannan, R. and Strachan, N. (2009) ‘Modelling the UK Residential Energy Sector under Long-term Decarbonisation Scenarios: Comparison between Energy Systems and Sectoral Modelling Approaches’, Applied Energy, vol 86 (4), pp416–428
  • Staffell, I., P. Baker. J. Barton, N. Bergman et al (in press). ‘UK Microgeneration Part II: Technology overviews’ Energy v. 163 (in press).
  • Strachan, N., Pye, S. and Kannan, R. (2009) The Iterative Contribution and Relevance of Modelling to UK Energy Policy, Energy Policy, vol 37 (3), pp850–860