Ofgem is setting up a network of regional planners to improve the UK’s energy transition, in a bid to secure greater resilience in bi-directional power flows, and speed the transition to Net Zero.
A six-month consultation attracting over 80 replies has ended with the watchdog unveiling Regional Energy Strategic Planners.
It sought fresh thinking focused on three topics: energy system planning, refining national and local markets to account for power storage and imbalance, and operating systems of increased complexity in real time.
Under the regime just unveiled, the new bodies will work with geographically focused stakeholders including councils, DNOs for power and gas, and regional development authorities, injecting clarity into work defining regions’ transitioning distribution systems. Attracting new investment to spur upgrades and decarbonisation will be key to RESPs’ mission.
Responsibility for the 13 RESPs will fall to the Future Systems Operator, the new supra-grid authority which will take on many of the NG-Energy Systems Operator’s functions from 2024. The FSO’s three key concerns will be reaching Net Zero by mid-century, immediate and continuing security of supply and efficiency of markets and their transactions.
In tandem with RESPs, Ofgem will bring in a new market function intended to co-ordinate regional markets for flexibility, delivered in practice by time-shifting, and storage aggregation and operation.
Besides strategic leadership, the market facilitator will introduce and coordinate regional markets, monitoring their operation. Ofgem will soon seek market participants’ views on which body ought to deliver this new role.
RESPs and the FSO tie in with Ofgem’s workplans, linked to D-ESNZ’s intentions, to create a more decentralised, decarbonised energy system, enabled by more flexible, more efficient uses of energy.
For more details, read here.
Later this month Ofgem chief Jonathan Brearley will meet England’s metro regional government officials, sharing views on how the reforms can best be delivered.
Reaction from one key participant, independent systems advisor Energy System Catapult, was warm.
Nicholas Geddes, speaking for its networks unit, said: ‘Embedding whole systems approaches is crucial to realising Net Zero. They can move us away from single vector, single system thinking to deliver a lower cost, more resilient, Net Zero energy system.
“Regional Energy Strategic Planners will play a vital role in driving this“.
Andrew Clark, Geddes’ colleague studying networks and topology, went further: “For places to get the most out of RESPs, inputs from devolved and local governments setting out the planned spatial pathway to Net Zero must be considered. Local Area Energy Plans (LAEPs) provide a consistent and robust way to feed cost-optimised whole systems pathways, reflecting local preferences, into RESPs, with 86 local authorities having completed, or progressing towards, a LAEP.