Graham Ault, executive vice president of markets and products at Smarter Grid Solutions
From extreme weather events to grid carbon data, what are the insights that will shape the energy sector’s priorities in the coming year?
An even bigger role for renewables and DERMS
There has been increasing investment in renewables as a result of falling technology costs and continued government support. 2021 saw large scale investment in distributed energy resource (DER) technologies such as solar PV, storage and EV infrastructure. Heat and building electrification also gained some momentum.
Each of these signals the need to manage our grids. DERs have impacts on grids but they also have huge potential. It all points to a larger scale roll-out of management systems, DERMS. Rapidly growing fleets of smaller low carbon assets need to be monitored, managed, traded and optimised to deliver all their many benefits.
Grid resiliency at a premium
Extreme weather events have continued to prompt people to question how to prevent major grid outages from occurring. In 2022 businesses and consumers will demand better solutions for resilient and reliable grids, and customers and utilities will focus on microgrids as a key tool.
We will see clean DER assets continue to be the technologies of choice in microgrids, so we will need a twin track approach to both capture the carbon reduction and market participation benefits and achieve resilience. This issue will continue to gain attention as local solutions are sought to climate-proof grids.
Heading to zero carbon in our towns, cities and businesses
In the year ahead it will become increasingly important to monitor the carbon intensity of the electricity flowing through grids and sourced from different suppliers and assets to meet customer and local targets. Minimising carbon intensity can be achieved by using grid, asset and contract carbon data to manage the use of power in buildings and businesses, as well as EV charging and heat demand.
With a desire to reduce carbon and meet COP26-inspired net zero action plans, many organisations will move towards a 24/7 zero carbon balancing philosophy with the commercial, operational and technological platforms to achieve that.
Nick Merricks, head of electricity product management and Rob Harper, director of sales and business development, Landis+Gyr
Assuming COVID doesn’t conspire against us, the GB smart meter rollout will continue and accelerate as supply chain constraints gradually ease and the new Supplier Performance Framework sets clear installation targets. The Energy Supply market will continue to deal with the economic impact of high cost to serve verse price cap limitations. This may result in difficulties in accessing available customer pots as end-consumer accounts are migrated away from suppliers entering SoLR to those recipient suppliers.
The EV smart charge points regulations Phase 1 come into force, which could alter the mix of charge points in the market as manufacturers respond to the regulations in different ways and in different timescales. Regulation will also drive the installation of smart charge points in new-build properties as standard, in preparation for the new regulations coming into force. National Grid and government will also accelerate preparations for the smart grid, through innovation projects, new regulation and process changes, using EV chargers as a trailblazer use case for the new technologies and processes required.
We expect to see ever growing concern linked to cyber security entering the mainstream media with a robust debate on smart charging being part of the smart architecture being one solution on offer. The growth in EV ownership is fantastic news and therefore we fully expect the regulations and policy work to step-up to assess the expansion of the national critical infrastructure for energy.
More announcements of major investments in R&D, infrastructure and M&A will happen, adding to investor hype in the sector as capital flows to higher-risk / higher-return return opportunities in the wake of the pandemic. This prediction obviously depends strongly on the way COVID pans out over the coming year.