Moves toward a low-carbon economy in a bid to tackle climate change will bring new challenges to the operators of the UK’s regional electricity networks. The challenges will arise from shifts in the way electricity is produced to include much more wind and other renewable power stations that will be connected at the regional network level. And an anticipated greater use by consumers of electric vehicles and heat pumps and other carbon-reducing measures will change radically the patterns of consumption and bring new demands on networks.
To best fulfil its role in helping to meet UK targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the power industry will need to make radical changes to its regional networks. They will have to move from the current passive operation to a responsive system that can handle intermittent renewable energy sources and make it possible for users to vary their consumption patterns. This type of network is a smart grid.
What Can a Smart Grid Deliver?
Smart grids will pave the way for generators of all sizes and technologies to connect to the network, encourage electricity consumers and generators to play a part in improving the performance of the entire electricity system and give consumers fuller information on electricity consumption, choice of supplier and cost. In addition smart grids will improve reliability, and deliver the security of supply consumers expect.
Energy Networks Futures Group
Networks and network operators will be at the heart of the transition to smart grids. ENA is at the forefront of smart grid development in the European Union. ENA established the Energy Networks Futures Group for the energy network companies collectively to take a leading role.
The Energy Networks Futures Group has supported the smart grid working group that emerged subsequently under the DECC/Ofgem Energy Networks Strategy Group. Early in 2010 the working group produced the UK smart grid vision and route map with significant input from the ENA.
ENA is also represented on the DECC/Ofgem Smart Grid Forum. More information can be found here
ENA is engaged in European developments and is represented on the smart grids working group set up by the European electricity industry association, Eurelectric.