Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan: the industry responds with a warm welcome. However…

Among a raft of energy publications, the Departmemt for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published a revised Smart Syatems and Flexibility Plan. Read the plan here and see the industry responses below

Susanne Baker, associate director for climate, environment and sustainability, techUK:
“Digital transformation is an essential enabler for a flexible and decarbonised energy sector. However, system-wide transformation requires targeted interventions and concrete actions to ensure innovation can be scaled for business-as-usual, cultural change embedded, markets function efficiently, and data is accessible to those who need it. Digital infrastructure and the necessary protections also must be in place to support it.
“Therefore, techUK today warmly welcomes the publication of the Energy Digitalisation Strategy and the updated Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan.
“We particularly welcome and support the establishment of the Energy Digitalisation Taskforce and the commitment to engage with the innovators. The initiative is a promising first start and we are already engaging heavily with the taskforce members to share the views of innovators, and we will continue to support the government in this important endeavour.”

Sanjay Neogi, head of UK and Europe, Enzen:
“We welcome today’s announcement of the new government Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan and Energy Digitalisation Strategy. But in order for the plans to be a success, we need to consider challenges to infrastructure. As more low carbon technologies become available, DNOs need to facilitate the integration of these renewable energy sources onto the grid in a sustainable, cost-effective way. With many utilities already facing cost constraints due to the challenging RIIO-ED2 regulatory framework, cutting-edge technologies will be vital to aid this transition.

“However, we also need to ensure that safety, data quality and network resilience are kept at the forefront of these new initiatives. An increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions, paired with rising populations, means many cities are looking towards these smarter, tech-driven solutions to bring them up-to-speed with 21st century challenges. The increased proliferation of these solutions – plus the huge volumes of data creation and management inherent in their design – mean stakeholders must prioritise cybersecurity in their plans.”

James Johnston chief executive and Co-founder, Piclo:
“Smart technology and flexibility will be essential in enabling the UK to create a net-zero energy system by 2050, enabling greater renewables and clean technologies, and helping to address the climate crisis.
“However, to achieve net-zero there are still barriers to overcome. We must introduce greater standardisation for procuring flexibility to simplify the process, improve access to participation and support real innovation in renewable energy and clean technologies. Given that the market is still fairly young, we should combine that standardisation with the ‘learning by doing’ approach that has helped us to become one of the world leaders in flexibility.
“The government expects to see a consistent methodology in carbon reporting and the adoption of a standardised approach to flexibility procurement by 2023. To accelerate decarbonisation and deliver the change we need by then, the industry must build a consensus on the standards that we need to implement, incorporating key learnings from real-world deployments.
“Now is a critical time for flexibility markets and we look forward to continuing to work alongside industry in driving the acceleration and standardisation of flexibility markets in the UK and internationally.”

Siobahn Meikle, managing director, UK and Ireland, Eaton:
“It’s brilliant to see the UK being a global trailblazer in developing smart and flexible energy systems – if implemented well, this has the potential to set a world-leading example.
“However, success will depend on working at pace and providing clarity on the execution of a dense and complex thicket of reforms to the policies, regulations and network codes that govern electricity markets today. Creating open and transparent energy markets, comprised of standard flexibility products, must be at the heart of the government’s reform agenda.”

David Boundy, chief technology officer and general manager Europe, Innowatts:
“We welcome the Government and Ofgem’s commitment to incentivising greater investment in data and digitalisation and hope it acts as a catalyst in supporting energy suppliers to adopt those technologies that will ultimately lead to better decisions for consumers, for the transition and for their businesses.”
“As the smart meter rollout progresses, energy suppliers have an ever increasing data resource at their fingertips – however, to date much of this data has remaining untapped, leaving opportunities to improve sustainability, grid reliability, risk management and customer service on the table. If we are to achieve a smart, flexible energy system that is fit for the future, unlocking consumer insights will be absolutely vital.”

Barnaby Wharton, director of future electricity systems, RenewableUK:
“We welcome the publication of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan and the government’s commitment to address the policy and regulatory barriers for flexible technologies like grid-connected storage over the coming years. Flexible technologies are vital to meet the government’s targets, including integrating 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, as well as helping to deliver 5GW of hydrogen and 18GW of interconnector capacity by 2030. Flexibility is not only making the transition faster – it also makes it cheaper and more reliable.

“Carbon signals have a key role to play to incentivise investment in low carbon flexibility. We welcome the ambition to review the gaps in current carbon policies in the Plan. A common approach to carbon pricing across all markets would drive the transition from fossil fuel-dominated balancing markets to much more coordinated low carbon flexibility services.

“The Energy Digitalisation Strategy should look to allow all system users to send and receive the right signals, incentivising the right behaviour from consumers and flexibility, enabling greater take up of renewables.

“Green hydrogen generated using electricity from offshore wind will play a key role in our future energy system, offering flexibility to the grid as it’s available any time on demand. With the right level of support from Government, costs will continue to fall over the course of this decade just as they did for offshore wind, making renewable hydrogen a cheap energy source for consumers.

“Other cutting-edge technologies like compressed air energy storage will provide an even greater range of flexibility. Lithium-ion batteries are scaling up incredibly fast, with a number of 50MW projects in operation in the UK and a total of more than 1.25GW of battery capacity installed so far. Looking ahead, projects with a capacity of 250MW have already been already consented. This will continue to accelerate if we can get access to capital at lower costs, alongside more stable revenue streams and a reformed network charging regime for access to the grid. In addition to all this, building more electricity interconnectors with other countries will enable us to sell our surplus power abroad”.