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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Sandra Asgrimsdottir

The Role of Interconnectors in Challenging the UK's Carbon Footprint: Contribution of Interconnectors to Decarbonistion of Future Energy Scenarios

Climate change and depletion of resources are commonly discussed in today’s societies. Calls have been made for action so dangerous effects such as sea level rises, increase in frequency of extreme weather events and melting of glaciers can be avoided. The United Kingdom (UK) has set a legally binding target for reduction in emissions by 2050 and it is obvious that many sectors will need to be addressed so the target can be achieved. The electricity sector being a prime target as it is responsible for one third of overall emissions in the UK.
Precisely how the goal will be reached is still unknown. Several plausible pathways have been published by various institutions and organisations, providing potential scenarios. All currently proposed pathways, however, involve a relatively small capacity of interconnectors, even though the technology has become a feasible option for bulk import of competitively priced low carbon electricity.
This thesis proposes new pathways for the UK electricity system, where interconnectors play a significant role, which are compared with existing pathways in terms of cost and reduction in emissions. Results from the comparison of scenarios where interconnectors play a significant role with scenarios where the latter have a modest contribution show that interconnectors could play a more significant role in reducing emissions in the electricity sector as pathways with high capacity of interconnectors and renewables are shown to be the most cost effective in reducing emissions, achieving the most reduction for per pound spent.