Carbon pricing, flexibility and scaling-up hydrogen: UK energy sector unveils net-zero innovation plans
2nd April 2020 | Commercial Energy
The body representing the UK’s electricity and gas transmission and distribution sector has set out its plans for reaching net-zero by 2050, concluding that this ambition will only be achieved if a “whole-systems” approach to transformation is adopted. In its Energy Networks Innovation Strategy, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) lists the net-zero transition as a key theme around which current and future innovations must be centred.
The ENA praises policymakers and businesses across the utilities sector for investing in green innovation, noting that 1,100 grid innovation projects were underway as of the end of March. Among these projects are the UK’s first grid-injected hydrogen trials, currently underway at Keele University, virtual power plants in Yorkshire and West Sussex and the Social Constraint Managed Zone, whereby businesses have partners with fuel poverty charity National Energy Action to provide low-income homes with the ability to sell flexibility services to the grid.
But the ENA ultimately concludes that broader, more rapid and more joined-up action is needed if Great Britain’s energy and gas networks are to align with the UK’s long-term climate targets while addressing consumer vulnerability and preserving energy security.
In the electricity sector, the Innovation Strategy states, priority in the coming years must be given to bringing more low and zero-carbon generation onto the grid – enough not just to meet current needs, but future demand, which will rise significantly as sectors such as heat and transport are electrified. This uptick in generation must be matched with investment in technologies which enable smart and flexible systems, such as large and small-scale energy storage and other demand-response methods, optimised by technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).
Aside from these measures – which have all been repeatedly urged before by various corporates in the energy sector and by industry bodies and think-tanks – the ENA is calling on businesses to research the operational impact of long-duration reserve services, which would need to become more commonplace as the electricity mix shifts in favour of renewables.
More information available on the website below