A report published today calls for a “system architect” to oversee the decarbonisation of the UK electricity sector.
The report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) concludes that the highly complex engineering involved in decarbonising Britain’s electricity system via renewable energy, community energy schemes, smart meters and electric vehicles “will be best governed by a single agent or body – a system architect – to make sure all the new systems and technologies work effectively together within a liberalised market”.
The IET states that “the future energy system will be characterised by increasing interdependencies between communications, data and automation. Multiple systems will need to ‘talk to each other’ seamlessly in order to avoid substandard services, or ultimately threats to energy security.”
The report points out that the energy sector can learn from other industries such as mobile telecommunications and aviation that have had to deal with the integration complex systems.
Dr Simon Harrison of the IET said: “Today’s electricity system has provided Britain with reliable, stable and continuous electricity supplies for over 100 years. We have localised issues in extreme weather conditions but generally we can assume our electricity will be available when we need it.
“But our existing electricity system was simply was not designed to cope with the complex new technologies involved in delivering our 21st century vision of clean energy, which involves working within a commercial multi-company environment spanning generation, transmission networks, distribution networks, smart home devices and, in the future, smart cities.
“We need to do some strategic ‘heavy lifting’ technical work behind the scenes to harness the ever-growing interdependencies between communications, data, automation and power systems engineering that an evolution towards cleaner energy involves.”