Smart grid progress and evaluation framework in Britain


London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — March 26, 2012 – Britain’s Smart Grids Forum (SGF) has reported that real progress has been made during its first year of activity, with one of the key achievements the publication of a smart grids evaluation framework to enable smart grid opportunities to be assessed relative to more conventional network development techniques.

The SGF was established in April 2011 by Ofgem and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to provide further leadership to the industry on smart grid issues.

Five work streams have been implemented:

  • Work Stream 1 – Assumptions and scenarios (led by DECC). Its goal was to provide data on the likely penetration of specific low carbon technologies that will impact the distribution networks in Britain, and data has been provided for electric vehicles, heat pumps and solar PV for three scenarios up to 2030.
  • Work Stream 2 – Smart grid evaluation framework (led by Ofgem). (See below)
  • Work Stream 3 – Developing networks for low carbon (led by the network distributors). An initial report, “Developing Networks for Low Carbon”, was published in October last year. Subsequently a further work program was initiated with the intention to increase the level of detail in the evaluation framework. Results from this work are due to be published in May.
  • Work Stream 4 – Closing doors. The main focus has been the interaction between the smart metering program and the development of smart grids. For example, it has helped the debate on smart meter functionality in the context of network operation and the required performance of the communications infrastructure.
  • Work Stream 5 – Ways of working. This work stream is considering how the Forum can best pursue its objectives and communicate effectively with stakeholders. The Energy Networks Association (ENA) and Smart Grids GB are jointly developing a program of activities to make the work of the SGF and its key stakeholders as visible as possible.

Smart grid evaluation framework

The Framework for the evaluation of smart grids, which was prepared for Ofgem by Frontier Economics and EA Technology, is aimed to offer a practical evaluation framework to improve understanding of the likely value of smart grids under different scenarios.

The three scenarios considered are projections of heat and transport electrification consistent with meeting the government’s fourth carbon budget, the same but with reduced customer willingness or ability to be flexible with the demand associated with each of the low carbon technologies, and the third the meeting of the carbon targets through action outside the domestic electricity sector, for example purchasing international credits.

Representative smart grid technologies considered include electrical energy storage, dynamic thermal ratings, enhanced automatic voltage control, technologies to facilitate demand side response, and active network management (dynamic network reconfiguration).

The initial findings suggest that in the period up to 2050, smart grid solutions can deliver significant savings over conventional investment strategies, even in scenarios with lower take-up of low carbon technologies. This is because including smart solutions in a strategy widens the set of options available to DNOs, and allows them to choose less costly solutions and defer conventional investment where appropriate.

However, the case for widespread rollout of smart rather than conventional methodologies in the period up to the mid-2020s may be marginal. This is because the rollout of the value driving technologies such as heat pumps, electric vehicles and distributed generation is unlikely to have a big impact across the system until that time.

Notably, it was also found that increasing the technology costs of smart grid by 50 percent does not have a significant impact on the net benefits of smart technologies, and there is alignment among parties of the costs and benefits.

The results are intended as a first step and in particular more analysis is required to decide at what point the deployment of smart grid solutions should commence in a significant way.