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Current± Predicts: The energy transition in 2020, part eight

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

Current±’s series of predictions for 2020 continues with part five, featuring the expectations of Kaluza’s Valts Grintals and Hyperdrive Innovation’s Stephen Irish.

Valts Grintals, flexibility analyst, Kaluza

More homes will become mini green power stations thanks to V2G

More than ever before, 2020 will enable consumers to participate in the energy system and make money from doing so. We’ll see hundreds more vehicle-to-grid chargers that use AI to intelligently import and export energy. This means that not only will customers reduce their carbon footprint but save hundreds of pounds during the course of the year - helping to engage them with the energy transition rather than simply imposing it upon them.

Frameworks will shape up around flexibility

Currently, the fragmented nature of UK flexibility markets limits how effectively we can unlock available flexibility, especially on low voltage networks. In 2020, key policy and regulatory decisions will be made that have long-term implications on innovation in the flexibility space. We’re set to see changing price signals and an accelerating evolution of local flexibility markets. This will be critical as we work to effectively orchestrate the behaviour of thousands more flexible smart devices, like electric vehicle chargers, home batteries and electrical heating systems.

Heat will hot up

The UK stands to save billions of pounds on infrastructure reinforcements through smart electric heat alone. While electric vehicles might have stolen the headlines in 2019, next year the pressure will be on to cut down on gas-powered heating systems and scale up electric or other lower-carbon systems. Policy and investment will need to ramp-up, so we start seeing the real value created by emerging innovations in domestic heat, from heat storage solutions and smart thermostats, to the AI optimising them.

Stephen Irish, co-founder and commercial director, Hyperdrive Innovation

Investment in decarbonisation

The UK government’s landmark commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, coupled with a series of new legislation designed to encourage emissions reduction, including the growing number of clean air zones in cities across the UK, means that appetite for investment in decarbonisation is at an all-time high. However, investment is stalling due to political uncertainty, especially around Brexit. The new government must put UK automotive manufacturing and engineering at the heart of its economic and trade policies. If it can do this and ensure a competitive market for innovation, a surge of companies will be in a stronger position to invest in innovation and spur decarbonisation and electrification.

Electrification outside of the automotive industry

The automotive industry has so far led the way in EV technology and will continue to see significant growth in the coming years. However, electrification is not just about cars, vans and lorries. Significant improvements in battery technology is now benefitting neighbouring industries and will continue to do so. Off-highway vehicles including construction, agricultural, airport ground service equipment and material handling (warehouse vehicles, AGVs) present a rich vein of opportunity for the EV manufacturing supply chain in the UK. The spread of electrification across different industries will be enhanced by the evolution of emission standards such as the European Stage V engine regulations which will increase its scope in January 2020, meaning that a greater number of vehicles must adhere to stricter emission limits. By committing to battery supply chains that service these sectors, in addition to traditional vehicles, the UK can establish a compelling market for future investment.

UK to lead the way in decarbonisation

The UK will continue to lead the way in decarbonisation and electrification. UK manufacturing currently employs 2.7 million people, contributes to 11% of Gross Value Added (GVA) and represents almost 70% of R&D. With sites such as HYVE, the UK’s largest independent battery pack manufacturing facility, and organisations such as the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) and initiatives like the Faraday Battery Challenge and Driving the Electric Revolution (DER), the UK is in line to take a leading role in the electrification industry. Finding truly compelling answers to questions surrounding battery manufacture, battery recycling and battery technologies will ensure the UK stay at the forefront of the industry.

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