Energy networks decisions urged

A “whole system” approach must be adopted to redesign the UK’s energy networks, according to an an industry body.

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has published a portfolio of reports after carrying out 10 years of research and technology development in its energy storage and distribution technology programme.

Liam Lidstone, Strategy Manager at the ETI, said: “In the years to come, the UK will change how it generates, imports and distributes energy and people will change how they use it, so it is important to address how energy is physically moved to meet consumer demands whilst adapting to a low carbon future.

“The existing UK networks have evolved over time but were largely engineered to address a different set of operational challenges to those the country now faces.

“Therefore, choices need to be made about which networks to build, develop, maintain or decommission as well as when and where to do so and the impact should be analysed across the whole energy system and not in isolation.”

Further integration

The ETI said network infrastructure will need to work across multiple “vectors” or energy sources in “real time” to increase efficiency.

It also said that the energy market will need the right incentives and targeted investment in order to adapt current networks or decommission and replace them.

Lidstone added: “Energy systems analysis undertaken by ourselves and others indicates that greater interaction between different parts of the energy system could emerge that would increase efficiency and lower investment costs.

“This identifies a need to develop a greater understanding of the opportunity for, and implications of moving towards integrating network operations to provide mutual long-term benefits.”

Energy storage

The ETI also highlighted the role that energy storage will play in making the system more flexible.

The amount of storage needed will depend on the route taken towards decarbonisation, the institute added.

At present, around one week’s worth of gas is stored in the gas pipe network.

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