The government has a ‘key role’ to play in the power sector’s rapid transformation, the second phase of a crucial study has concluded.
Findings from the second stage of the Future Power System Architecture programme (FPSA2) were unveiled last week, key takeaways of which included advice on the government’s role in the power sector’s transition to a more decentralised and decarbonised future.
It found that with government actions underpinning many of the frameworks that allow the power sector to operate, particularly in the fields of governance, regulation and commercial structures, it would largely be down to the government to interact with industry to facilitate that transformation.
Of equal importance is the power market’s ability to embrace new entrants to the market as it transitions away from a reliance on a select few larger providers. The UK has witnessed a significant uptick in both the number of consumers switching to smaller, independent utilities in recent years, while the number of homes generating their own power to become ‘prosumers’ also continues to grow.
FPSA2 was commissioned by Innovate UK and delivered by both the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Energy Systems Catapult. The duo worked across industry and collaborated with stakeholders to create concepts and processes which would contribute towards the future system architecture.
Simon Harrison, chair of the FPSA project delivery board, said it was integral that the power industry continues embrace the “host of new players” operating in the customer and community markets.
“Importantly this includes customers themselves becoming active participants in energy, through the choices they make, enabled by Apps, smart meters, automation and intelligent appliances.
“Without the necessary co-ordination, there is a real risk that these developments will have adverse impacts on the power system, leading to lost whole-system opportunities, and potential incompatibilities in the way that technology is implemented and the way that markets operate,” he said.
Harrison went on to lament the lack of a shared vision or understanding from stakeholders to address whole-system issues efficiently, highlighting the need for all parties to come together and “create that vision”.
Eric Brown, head of innovation at the Energy Systems Catapult, said increased customer demands and the advent of new and changing business models were contributing towards the pace of change, already said to be moving far quicker than regulation than keep up.
“New energy solutions, including cross-vector developments in the future, depend upon the contribution of researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs; the framework changes identified by FPSA are key to enabling these parties to engage with the sector to deliver and deploy new thinking, not just in demonstrations, but importantly at scale,” Brown said.
Future phases of the FPSA will focus upon active participation in the programme, with its administration keen to further clarify its boundaries of work to avoid duplicated efforts from other programmes running alongside it.