Network operators in £17bn smart grid pledge

A commitment made by electricity network companies to help Great Britain’s fast developing smart grid could help deliver £17bn back to the economy by 2050, according to an industry body.

Electricity network companies operating across England, Scotland and Wales have announced the joint pledge to “create new markets to enable flexibility services that will compete alongside traditional investment”.

They said the move will help reduce the cost of running the network to customers and provide new opportunities for businesses and communities to offer flexibility services to local network operators.

Up to £40bn of benefits identified

They could include businesses and consumers:

• Selling power generated by technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines

• Businesses adjusting their electricity use at the times of day when they least need it

• Using new smart energy efficiency technology to adjust consumption remotely and buying electricity from battery storage.

Research conducted by Imperial College London and The Carbon Trust for the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan shows that the UK could deliver £17-40bn of benefits across the energy system by 2050.

'Great track record’

David Smith, Chief Executive of the Energy Networks Association, said:

“Our energy networks have a great track record of delivering for households, businesses and communities when it comes to network reliability, reducing costs to the bill payer and driving forward new investment in our infrastructure.

“This announcement builds on that, as our energy market rapidly changes. It is about creating a system that creates a platform for a whole range of new energy technologies and services that not only allows network companies to manage the system more effectively but give other organisations the chance to benefit from that, whether that be directly or indirectly.”

Richard Harrington MP, Minister for Energy & Industry, said:

“A smarter, more flexible energy system will create opportunities to reduce energy costs, increase productivity and put UK businesses in a leading position to export smart energy technology and services to the rest of the world.”

Dermot Nolan, Chief Executive of Ofgem, also welcomed the commitment by the networks.

“Flexibility is key to the transition to a smarter energy system which saves consumers money on their energy bills. We will work with the energy industry, Government and consumer groups to make sure that these new services are delivered in whatever way works best for consumers."

> Read the announcement in full