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Experts call for fresh thinking on UK grid challenges

December 9th, 2013

A group of energy experts set up by the UK’s Institution of Engineering and Technology is warning that Britain will face blackouts unless it adopts a “whole system” approach to its upgrading its power grid.

The group – called the Power Network Joint Vision (PNJV) and comprising experts from transmission and distribution network companies, consultants, academia, regulator Ofgem and the government – claims that decarbonisation of energy is “probably the biggest peace-time change to national infrastructure” in the UK, but warns that the country is currently not up toT&D development the task.

In a new report called Electricity Networks: Handling a Shock to the System, the PNJV presses for the creation of a “systems architect role to ensure a holistic approach to adapting the power grid to meet challenging and complex new requirements resulting from decarbonisation”.

It adds that “ensuring the future stability of the grid while creating a system that can deal with two-way local power flows and less-predictable generation and new demands such as charging of electric vehicles will be a big challenge”.

PNJV chairman Dr Simon Harrison said: “Britain’s electricity sector is grappling with the triple challenges of decarbonisation, maintaining security of supply, and affordability to customers. The impact of future changes has potentially profound impacts on networks and on the electricity system as a whole.”

“These changes are potentially disruptive to electricity supply security and the cost-effective operation of the grid, and these pressures will become progressively more severe.”

“We have an opportunity to act in ways which reduce cost and create worldwide opportunity for innovation and UK leadership. The scale and complexity of the challenges ahead is new, and potentially even greater than when the national grid was first developed in the 1930s. Fresh thinking is needed.”

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