Assessing the impact of low carbon technologies on Britain’s distribution networks


London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — August 6, 2012 – Britain’s networks will require investment of from £20 billion to £60 billion by 2050, depending on how smart the investment strategy is, according to a new report from the national Smart Grid Forum.

Under all strategies, investment is the period up to 2020 is relatively low but would ramp up rapidly thereafter.

The report, Assessing the Impact of Low Carbon Technologies on Great Britain’s Power Distribution Networks, describes a new model that has been developed to assist the evaluation of network investment options in the transition to a low carbon economy.

According to the report, a smart grid strategy of using innovative solutions in conjunction with conventional reinforcement options appears to be more cost effective than using conventional solutions alone. This is mainly because the smart grid solutions are assumed to have a lower cost than their conventional counterparts and in many situations have advantages of being more flexible and less disruptive to implement.

The technologies focused on include heat pumps, photovoltaics, electric vehicles, and distributed generation in the form of onshore wind and biomass.

However, technology alone will not deliver the required outcomes. Commercial and regulatory frameworks and consumer engagement will be key enablers. Thus solutions need to be developed with a range of stakeholders.

According to the report this is going to present a number of challenges to the network operators. These include the post-2020 investment ramp-up, the fact that the spread of the new technologies on networks will not be uniform and will tend to cluster, and for example engaging customers in demand side response activities.

The Smart Grid Forum was established by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Ofgem to provide leadership on smart grid issues.

The report was prepared for the Smart Grid Forum by EA Technology, with input from Element Energy, GL Noble Denton, Frontier Economics, and Chiltern Power.

The model is not intended as an “endpoint” but rather to act as a framework that can be built upon over time, as data from projects becomes available.