The UK is at a pivotal moment for investing in the future of its energy system. Two thirds of its power stations – mostly old coal, nuclear and gas-powered stations – are expected to close by 2030, increasing the risk of ‘brownouts’ and ‘blackouts’ in future. A recent survey by the MEUC found that nine out of 10 UK businesses are worried about the security of their energy supply. From businesses to households, our large and small energy consumers urgently need reassurance that our energy system is not only able to cater to growing demand, but is also ready for future challenges. It’s clear we need to move beyond this wasteful, cumbersome system, and thanks to internet-enabled technologies, we can do so. Both the National Infrastructure Commission and Ofgem say that more flexible patterns of demand would reduce energy waste, make the system cheaper and more carbon efficient to run, and lowering consumers’ bills. Businesses now have a unique opportunity to move away from polluting energy sources to help the UK achieve its carbon reduction targets, whilst being rewarded with new revenues at the same time. The potential for demand response is huge: according to the National Infrastructure Commission’s Smart Power report, if just 5% of current peak electricity demand is met by demand-side response, our energy system would be £200m/year cheaper to run, and end-users could benefit by up to £790m. This is the inspiration behind the Living Grid, a movement led by forward-thinking organisations and convened by Forum for the Future, to create a new approach to our energy system that is interactive, self-balancing and adaptive rather than linear and clumsy. This will not only help the grid cater better to peaks and troughs in demand and supply, but also enable it to make full use of renewable energy sources.
Forum for the Future 16th Aug 2016 read more »