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SP Energy Networks seeks consumer views on RIIO-2 investment strategy

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

SP Energy Networks (SPEN) has launched a public consultation on its RIIO-2 business plan, seeking public opinion on the critical areas of its five-year investment strategy.

SPEN, which manages transmission networks across central and southern Scotland, has outlined a number of potential scenarios which chart forecasted fluctuations in demand and supply and how SPEN’s investment may need to adapt to these changes.

Industry regulator Ofgem is still tailoring how exactly the RIIO-2 framework will shape up, but network operators in the UK are still expected to submit business plans next year.

The consultation is one of SPEN’s first steps in formulating that business plan.

The 44-page document was commissioned alongside consultancy Baringa, which worked alongside Element Energy to develop the scenarios mentioned within. It poses future challenges for energy networks alongside new sources of demand, typically electric vehicles and heat pumps, against new sources of supply, listed as wind, solar and energy storage.

It poses five main questions to consumers, namely seeking agreement on the scenarios posed in the document, identifying any other ‘major issues’ which might arise over the RIIO-2 timeframe, how SPEN might factor in uncertainties in its business plan and, perhaps most interestingly, the DNO is seeking views on its assumption that EV charging profiles will be one of the key sources of demand flexibility moving forward.

Indeed, one of SPEN’s key conclusions stated in the consultation is that EV growth will have a significant impact on distribution networks, with the greatest impact on SPEN’s network area being that in urban areas around central Scotland, with special considerations for charging behaviours and locations necessary to better understand this demand.

The network operator has also concluded that greater, more coordinated network planning will be required to accommodate for the forecasted levels of new, decentralised generation to be added to the system, with the transmission network also set to play a “key role” in moving power from areas of higher penetration of distributed generation to other parts of the country.

Scott Mathieson, director of network planning and regulation at SPEN, said: “Understanding how electricity demand and supply could evolve on our transmission network is a key factor in informing the need for reinforcement works and ultimately SP Energy Networks’ business plan.

“But we need ongoing feedback from our stakeholders – both producers and consumers of electricity – to make sure our plans meet the needs of our customers.

“We are seeking views on what stakeholders believe are the issues we should be planning for, how we can factor in the uncertainty, and how we can move towards a more flexible use of our electricity network, where peak demand can be moved around to minimise its impact on the network.”

The consultation is to remain open until 28 September 2018.

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