National Grid to operate zero-carbon system by 2025

4th April 2019


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Malcolm Broomfield

The National Grid's Electricity System Operator (ESO) has announced that it will be able to operate a zero-carbon power system by 2025.

It said total electricity demand will be met fully by renewables during certain periods of time, and that these will increase as more low-carbon sources come online.

But there are “critical engineering challenges“ that remain, with technologies like large-scale offshore wind and domestic solar panels having to be integrated “right across the system“.

New smart digital systems will also be needed to manage key operations and balancing services such as voltage control, inertia, and frequency response in real-time.

“By 2025, ESO will have transformed the operation of Britain's electricity system, and put in place the innovative systems, products and services to ensure that the network is ready to handle 100% zero carbon,“ director, Fintan Slye, said.

“Operating a zero-carbon electricity system in 2025, whenever there is sufficient renewable generation, is a major stepping stone to full decarbonisation of the entire electricity system.

ESO oversaw a number of records on the electricity system last year, including wind generation exceeding 15GW for the first time, and no coal on the system for 72 consecutive hours.

Slye said that a new zero-carbon system would lead to better value for customers, as new products and services will help reduce the overall cost of the operating system.

“We will design the new competitive marketplaces needed to source these as efficiently as possible from both new and existing companies,“ he added.

This comes after a study by Auroa Energy found that the UK's energy transition is likely to trigger £6bn of investment in flexible power generation between now and 2030.

The firm expects 13GW of smart technology to be deployed by then, including battery storage and gas reciprocating engines, with flexible energy projects continuing to dominate the ancillary services markets.

“The power system is rapidly evolving towards a decarbonised, decentralised and digitalised future,“ Auroa research director, Richard Howard, said. “Reforms to policy and market design need to reflect this.

“Over the period to 2030 we expect balancing and ancillary power markets to double in size to around £2bn per year, opening up opportunities for flexible generators and storage to access new revenue streams.“

Image credit: iStock

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