UK’s ‘Smart Power’ call to boost smart network development

The UK government and regulator Ofgem have published their Smart Power call, confirming their commitment to the creation of a smarter energy system.

The government believes that this is a key step toward the creation of an efficient clean power system, which the National Infrastructure Commission predicts will benefit industry and consumers to the tune of up to £8bn a year by 20301. [E.ON partners to meet UK smart meter rollout target]

According to Blue and Green Tomorrow, as the heat and transport sectors become electrified, peaks and pressures on the national grid are set to rise. This will require a much greater system flexibility to ensure generation and demand are more efficiently matched.

An intelligent energy network will be essential to retain competitiveness and to reduce costs to consumers.

Paul Barwell, chief executive at the UK Solar Trade Association (STA), welcomed the call for evidence and commented: “Opening both energy markets and networks to the clean and clever technologies available today will be hugely beneficial for consumers. Smart power allows greater volumes of the cheapest forms of clean power – like solar – to be integrated effectively into the energy system. It also means demand will more efficiently match supply, rather than wasteful business as usual, where generation simply follows demand peaks. Smart power will benefit consumers with more affordable, clean and secure power – which it will be easier to own themselves. It will also encourage huge investment into UK Plc.”

STA Strategic Grid Working Group

The working group aims to transform the operation of local power networks to enable far more efficient connection and management of clean solar generation. [Analysis: status of and challenges affecting the UK smart meter rollout]

The call is also meant to serve local distribution system operators to be increasingly incentivised to act like intelligent ‘mini grids’, with much more freedom to connect and manage complex power flows.

Blue and Green Tomorrow  adds that it is “hoped that the power markets will increasingly move to put demand reduction contracts and storage on a more level footing with generation, enabling the shaving of expensive and inefficient demand ‘peaks’”.

Leonie Greene, who leads on the STA’s Smart Power work said: “The recognition that we need to move to more active local networks is hugely welcome given much clean energy is highly decentralised. For decades the electricity sector was one of the least innovative industries in the world. It is potentially poised to become a global hotbed of innovation and by moving early the UK has the chance to do more than save consumers a lot of money – we can become an international leader in the smart power industry.”