Britain is one step closer to creating a smart grid, after the release of a blueprint for the foundations of an ‘Internet of Energy’.
Published by the Energy Networks Association’s Open Networks Project, it comes after consultancy firm Baringa examined five different models – known as ‘Future Worlds’ – for delivering a smarter, more flexible energy system.
The Future Worlds ranged from a decentralised energy system where local electricity grids enable regional energy markets to balance supply and demand at a local level, to a more centralised system where co-ordinating local energy resources is the responsibility of the national system operator. In another model, new independent national or regional organisations would co-ordinate flexibility services for the electricity networks.
In all five scenarios considered, traditional forms of infrastructure such as pylons and substations would have to work alongside smart energy flexibility services to manage the electricity grid, incorporating new consumer technologies such as electric vehicles, smart meters, battery storage and solar panels.
The Future World proposed involves local and national electricity grid operators working more closely together to co-ordinate the use of flexibility services.
According to the document, this will “enable operators to run the grid in a smarter, more efficient and more flexible way, whilst giving the public new opportunities to benefit from a smart grid“.
It adds that the proposal “will ensure that the public will be able to access benefits from Britain’s smart grid in the quickest and cheapest way possible“.
At the same time, grid operators will be able to respond quickly and flexibly to new developments over the next decade – and in a way that allows for a “potentially radical decentralisation of the way the electricity grid works if there is sufficient take-up of new technologies”.
In the long term, the Energy Networks Association said, “the success of this industry-wide transformation will be determined by the continued pace of uptake of distributed energy resources, such as solar PV and wind turbines, and the rising volume and value of flexibility services in the GB market“.
Research by Imperial College London and the Carbon Trust shows that flexibility technologies such as demand side response, storage and interconnectors could deliver up to £40bn of benefits across the energy system between now and 2050.
Tags: Smart grid