Opportunity knocks for an energy revolution

A new report highlights how the UK could turn the energy challenges it faces to its advantage. CEO Robert Groves believes SmartestEnergy is set to be a leader in this smarter energy market of the future.

Barely a day goes by without another warning about the significant energy challenges facing the UK as older generating stations reach the end of their days.

Although the UK Government says it is confident that the necessary steps are being taken to bring forward investment in new capacity, concerns over a looming generation gap continue to be voiced by many commentators.

A report published by the National Infrastructure Commission last week concluded that although the UK does face a serious energy challenge, it is also uniquely placed to use innovation to help overcome it.

The commission had been tasked some six months ago with looking at how the UK can better balance supply and demand, aiming towards an electricity market where prices are reflective of costs to the overall system.

The key finding of its report is that smart power – energy storage, demand flexibility and interconnection – could save consumers up to £8 billion a year by 2030, help the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets, and secure energy supplies for generations.

The Commission’s chairman Lord Adonis appears to be in no doubt of the scale of the opportunity, stressing: “If we get this right, it will provide the efficient, flexible and secure energy infrastructure our country will need to thrive”.

Although much needs to be done for the potential to be realised, he points out that DECC and Ofgem have already made a start on capitalising on the smart power revolution. Our own experience with many business energy users suggests they are also really starting to embrace the potential.

On demand flexibility for example, we have seen significant interest from customers in a new Demand Side Response (DSR) service which enables businesses to turn their consumption into an asset and receive payments in return for reducing use when demands on the grid are high.

With estimates suggesting that up to 10% of business electricity demand could be flexible and in many cases a significantly higher proportion, the potential of DSR is very exciting.

The Commission’s report also highlighted the rapid progress being made on energy storage technology, arguing that the UK could become a world leader in the field.

Energy storage is an area many of our independent generation customers, particularly solar developers, are starting to ask us about and we currently involved in a pioneering project - the Smarter Network Storage facility - which is looking at the role storage can play in helping balancing the grid by absorbing surplus power and releasing it when needed.

From our own experience there is no shortage of appetite out there from large energy users and independent generators looking to get involved in this smart energy revolution.

The Commission’s report has made a number of recommendations on steps it believes are needed to help the UK make the most of the opportunity ahead and we will be watching with interest to see how the Government responds in the weeks ahead.

Read the NIC’s Smart Power report here
Find out more about SmartestEnergy’s DSR service here
Read more about the Smarter Network Storage project here