50GW of solar would be needed by 2050 if the government is to meet its climate change targets, helping to meet all of summer demand within a zero emission energy system, according to a new report.

Aurora Energy Research’s latest publication forecasts the needs of the GB power system under the high renewables scenario required to achieve ambitious climate change targets by 2050, at which point the UK is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to the 1990 baseline level.

large solar farm in England producing electricity
This would require a 230% increase in low carbon generation from today’s 40GW to over 130GW, including 50GW of solar and 66GW of wind by 2050.

Under this high renewable scenario, summer demand would be met and exceeded by low carbon generation, which would significantly be provided by solar, sending power prices tumbling. Conversely in winter, renewables would not be able to fully meet demand at which point gas generation and storage would come into play.

This would lead to significant price disparity between seasons, with prices below £10/MWh in the summer compared to an average of around £60/MWh in the winter. With gas setting the trend during these colder periods, Aurora suggests that 10GW of battery storage would also be needed to play an increasingly important role.

Read more: Solar Power Portal