“No shared vision” for a decentralized UK energy system, report warns

The continuing rise of decentralized energy could pose “a real risk of adverse impacts” for the UK‘s energy system, a new report has warned.

The report, released on Friday by public-private collaboration the Future Power System Architecture project (FPSA), said Britain’s government must play “a key role” in transforming the frameworks that underpin the power sector to deal with new challenges.à‚ 

Governance, regulation, commercial structures and social acceptance “are significant challenges of considerable complexity and some urgency” as Britain’s energy ecosystem moves to include more wind and solar PV systems, smaller-scale generation connected to distribution networks, more commercial and residential self-generation, greater reliance on interconnectors and the growth of domestic and grid-scale energy storage, FPSA said.

However, it added that barriers to addressing these challenges are “significant”.

In its initial phase, the FPSA project identified 35 new or enhanced functions that it said are needed to deliver a functional UK power system by 2030. In its new report, the project called on the government to implement what it termed ‘enabling frameworks’, which would help to overcome the barriers to implementation.

According to FPSA, enabling frameworks would offer agility in programme development, increased stakeholder participation, timely decision-making and a learning approach that “embraces uncertainty, innovation and whole-system integration concepts”.

Dr Simon Harrison, chair of the FPSA Project Delivery Board, warned that “without the necessary co-ordination, there is a real risk that new developments will have adverse impacts on [Britain’s] power system, leading to lost whole-system opportunities, and potential incompatibilities in the way that technology is implemented and the way that markets operate.

“There is currently no shared vision or even shared understanding of how to bring all the elements together in a way that addresses whole-system issues and is efficient, effective, secure and reliable,” he added.

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