British summers could be fully fueled with clean energy by mid-century without breaking the energy market economy, according to a report by Aurora Energy Research.
But while wind, solar and nuclear power would provide about 91% of the country's electricity by then, up from 50% today, gas plants are still expected to be necessary during winters.
Analysts at Aurora Energy Research looked at how the wholesale energy market could cope if the UK meets its target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
They found that the price of energy would drop to almost zero between April and October due to lower demand and excess electricity from solar panels and wind farms.
But energy companies would continue to have a viable business model because prices for the other half of the year would reach around 70 pounds per megawatt-hour, higher than the current annual average of 50-60 pounds per MWh.
"Hitting a high renewables scenario can allow Britain to meet climate change targets without breaking the wholesale market," said Weijie Mak, co-author of the report. However, he said that if the country took a stricter approach to reducing emissions to zero, as ministers recently asked experts to consider, that would break the market because prices would be too low for companies.
The report paints a picture of a world where the appetite for electricity has increased by two-thirds of current demand, due to the rise of electric cars and the switch from gas boilers to electric heating.
But due to higher demand and lower solar energy production in winter, gas-fired power plants would still be needed to fill the gaps between November and February.
Their owners would need an additional payment during the winter to be ready to provide backup power when needed, to keep the economy running.
The explosive growth of renewables over the past eight years has already lowered energy prices by around £ 4 per MWh. But Aurora said the effect could be up to £ 40 per MWh by 2050.
Whether that translates into a cut in energy bills remains to be seen, said Richard Howard, Aurora's head of research. While the wholesale portion of a bill will drop, other components such as backup power payments, renewable energy subsidies, and network costs could rise.
With information from: