Last year, New Power editor Janet Wood spoke to Energy UK’s new chief, Emma Pinchbeck, then at Renewable UK. See some highlights below and login to read the full interview.
What’s exciting the future of the energy industry? “What would happen if we ran onshore wind auctions at scale; what is happening on the merchant side, with subsidy-free renewables coming on line; electric vehicles coming through and new market entrants suddenly being interested in the sector”.
What are some of the challenges facing the sector? “The biggest intellectual challenge to energy now [is] how do you get a set of infrastructure and market designs that develops that big picture and centralised kit at the same time as rewarding, developing and supporting emerging technologies and different markets.”
Plus: “How do you make sure that people who are going off-grid aren’t opting out of regulatory charge for networks? How do you make sure that if you are thinking about doing EV or vehicle-to-grid that it deploys where it will be needed on the grid, and not just where consumers want it? How do you make sure you are funding enough capacity to meet the carbon budgets and keep the lights on?”
What’s the future of the capacity market? “How we define capacity and how we procure it is going to be one of the things that changes over the coming decades. Allowing full flexibility is really important.” She argues strongly that the definition of firm power has to change. “We are pushing for renewables plus storage to be able to bid in.
Revolution or evolution? “Because everything is changing so rapidly, working with what we have, and tweaking it so it allows more innovation, is probably where we are at”. There are some basic principles to be decided before making bigger changes. “We have to decide what capacity is and what flexibility is.”
What does flexibility look like? Looking to the long term she sets out a world with variable renewables as incumbents, at about 60% of the mix, and storage at every level. Wind farms would have batteries alongside and there would be consumer participation. “As far as they are concerned, the system would be secure and as far as we are concerned renewables and storage is predictable baseload capacity, just as gas will be. You will treat those things very similarly. That’s a very high-level view, because they are different technologies, with different funding mechanisms that do different things in the system.”