The UK needs a single body to plan and optimise the overall energy system and it needs to stop trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to smart grids, according to engineers, technology companies and academics.
Giving evidence to the energy and climate change committee on smarter grids and low carbon power networks, the panel of experts added their voices to the growing call for an independent system architect.
The impact of intermittent renewables and distributed generation is creating conflict between local grid operators and National Grid, according to the panel. Distribution companies (DNOs) are also hamstrung by the commercial and regulatory barriers which, for example, stop them owning and operating energy storage assets and fail to sufficiently incentivise them to implement smarter technologies. DNO’s eight-year price controls focus too heavily on old world outputs – and lock the UK into a slow moving energy transition, MPs were told.
While smart grid innovation funding overseen by energy regulator Ofgem was applauded for encouraging innovation, MPs heard that the UK must now commercialise lessons learned rather than allocating further funds only to entirely new projects. Equally, policymakers must focus on creating commercial markets to speed smart grid deployment by creating incentives for market participants. Failure to do so will see the UK miss an opportunity to export smart grid technology and learning around the world, according to the panel.
The energy and climate change committee heard evidence this morning from Dr Jill Cainey, director, Electricity Storage Network, Dr Philipp Grunewald, research fellow, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, on behalf of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Dr Gordon Edge, director, policy-economics and regulation, RenewableUK, Stephen Goldspink, director, strategy and business development, Siemens Energy Management, and Sara Bell, chief executive, Tempus Energy.
Watch the session here.