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Reports from National Grid and Ofgem highlight need to adapt to changes in electric demand and supply

Thu 13 July 2017 | Back to news list

A new report from National Grid says that the wide scale introduction of electric vehicles presents significant challenges as well as opportunities for the UK's powergrid. Meanwhile a separate report from Ofgem says that the arrival of more low carbon, distributed generation will encourage the adoption of emerging battery and other storage technologies for which costs are falling rapidly.
National Grid's latest 'Future Energy Scenarios' report says that in 2030 peak electricity demand could be 8GW higher than today due to the growth in uptake of electric vehicles. However, under a 'managed scenario' in which smart charging and shared autonomous vehicles help manage the impact on the grid, peak demand could be limited to around 6 gigawatts (GW) in 2050. This is equivalent to 10% of the current 60GW peak demand on a cold winter’s day.
National Grid's Future Energy Scenarios (FES) 2017 are based on the so called ‘energy trilemma’ of security of supply, sustainability and affordability. The report outlines the pathways for the future of energy to 2050.  
The FES is published every year and involves input from stakeholders across the energy industry. National Grid increased its engagement in 2017 consulting with 391 organisations (up from 362 in 2016). The scenarios look to provide credible pathways for the future of energy to 2050.
The report says that there are a range of credible pathways for the future of energy to 2050. They reflect the possible sources of, and demands for, gas and electricity in the future, and the implications of this for the energy industry.
This year’s analysis shows that electric vehicles (EVs) could drive large increases in peak demand if we continue to see the sharp uptake past the 2030s and if there is no management of when charging occurs.
However, with smart charging and the introduction of shared autonomous vehicles, the impact on the grid could be much lower. In fact, peak demand could be limited to around 6 gigawatts (GW) in 2050; equivalent to 10% of the current UK 60GW peak demand on a cold winter’s day. (See Carbon Brief link.)
Ofgem's new report - Upgrading Our Energy System -  says that the arrival of more low carbon generation, which is intermittent and often located close to people's homes and businesses, prompts new challenges and opportunities. It produces different amounts of electricity depending on factors like the time of day or the weather. New technologies are emerging, it says, and the costs of many of these technologies, such as storage, are falling rapidly.
Ofgem says that if we get the changes right, we have the opportunity to create new businesses and jobs, empower consumers and help people save up to £40bn off their energy bills in the coming decades.
Ofgem's Plan is a culmination of work with BEIS and is a core component of Ofgem's future facing work to enable the energy system transition. It forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. It is supported by Government’s significant increase in public research and innovation spending, including on new storage technologies. (See LowCVP news story on the 'Faraday Challenge')
The report's authors asked for views on what changes the Government and Ofgem should make and engaged throughout the process with innovators from across the energy industry. Ofgem's plan shows what actions need to be taken by Government and Industry to deliver a smarter, more flexible energy system by:
  • removing barriers to smart technologies, including storage
  • enabling smart homes and businesses
  • making markets work for flexibility
Ofgem says that its plan enables the development of a smart, flexible energy system that will reduce costs for consumers and industry, and support the growth of innovative new businesses.
Note: The LowCVP's Electric Vehicle (EV) Network Group aims to help deliver this 'managed scenario'. It has been set up to facilitate dialogue between the low carbon automotive and utilities sectors, acting as the conduit for information to be shared between the sectors and UK Government. The group aims to drive forward solutions to allow electric vehicles to work in harmony with the UK electricity distribution network. It will act as a focal point to address both technological and infrastructural needs, to share research and to recommend measures to increase the number of electric miles driven on UK roads by 2030. 

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