The UK could save billions of pounds every year by using electricity “smarter”, for example by storing more energy from intermittent renewable sources like solar and wind.
That’s according to a recent report from the National Infrastructure Commission, which said that smart power — principally built around interconnection, storage and demand flexibility — could save consumers up to £8bn a year by 2030, help the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets and secure the UK’s energy supply for generations.
The government’s infrastructure advisers urged the government to pursue more connections to cheap, green power supplies in other countries such as Norway and Iceland.
Regarding energy storage, the report called for a review of regulations to remove outdated barriers and enable storage to compete fairly with generation across the various interlinked electricity markets. It also said that regulator Ofgem should encourage network owners to use storage (and other sources of flexibility) to improve the capacity and resilience of their networks.
Meanwhile, a new generation of hi-tech systems have made it easy for consumers to save money on their energy bills and cut emissions. To make full use of demand flexibility, the report recommended improved regulation as well as education for household and commercial customers about the money saving opportunities that demand flexibility can offer.
Lord Adonis, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, said:
“Our existing power stations are closing down and their replacements will be radically different as we decarbonise supply to reduce emissions. This represents an enormous challenge, but it also leaves the UK uniquely placed to benefit from three exciting innovations set to transform the global electricity market — interconnection, storage and demand flexibility.
“The UK can lead the world in harnessing these innovations, bringing jobs and investment into the country and cutting bills for consumers. The National Infrastructure Commission report, Smart Power, makes a series of strategic recommendations to help do exactly that.
“We do not call for new subsidies or significant public spending, but rather a level playing field through fairer regulation and a better managed network to allow these exciting new technologies to compete.
“If we get this right a smart power revolution could save consumers £8bn a year.”