The ‘Gone Green’ scenario among four options set out by National Grid in its Future Energy Scenarios is ‘middle of the road’, and the next five years could see a dramatic change in the energy system if consumers act. That was the challenge raised at the launch of the Energy Systems Catapult, an organisation intended to help energy innovators bridge the ‘valley of death’ between demonstration and commercial deployment.
Among the Catapult’s early outputs will be a report on future power systems architectures. But audience members warned that report’s reliance on NG’s scenarios could mean it was too cautious, at a time when the pace of change of the energy industry has fundamentally altered.
At issue was the effect of public enthusiasm for technology, which as with PV could see it taken up many times faster than the industry had expected. Electric vehicles were an example where numbers in the Gone Green scenario look “quite modest” and there could be sudden takeup by the public.
Dr Simon Harrison, who has been overseeing the report, agreed that compared to infrastructure, consumer and technology companies saw deployments at least ten times as fast. “What happens when technology companies start to determine the pace”, he asked. It would create a “huge bow wave” for the energy industry, he said, and “the chances of this happening more quickly and at much greater scale than predicted are quite high”.
However Paul Jordan, head of strategy development at the new Catapult, said there was plenty of innovation in process that could be “unlocked” to help manage the transition.
Earlier at the launch the emphasis had been on the need to encompass energy systems outside electricity, including heat, transport, and new energy vectors like hydrogen. There was a need for more detailed modeling that could capture the interactions between them and provide more understanding of how they varied by location and time.
Further reading: Ofgem tells National Grid: “we are not Going Green”