Future Energy Strategy for the UK

Although Woking has avoided grid and NETA penalty costs by utilising private wire networks and a local trading system the existing regulatory regime limits the size of the local sustainable energy system and more importantly substantially limits the number of domestic customers that can be supplied with low cost green energy.

The embedded generation industry is capable of providing all of the country’s energy needs and what is needed now is a progressive move towards this goal in parallel with using the existing centralised systems until they are no longer needed. Much of the national grid system would have to be replaced or refurbished within the Royal Commission’s timescale for action in any case and it would be folly to replicate the existing national system which plainly would not be suitable for renewable energy which is of a much smaller scale than centralised power stations. The need will be for many thousands of renewable energy stations where electricity flows will be dissipated at the nearest loads and not lost in heating up the wires and transformers in the national grid.



Government can take an easy first step to encourage the development of CHP and renewables and local sustainable community energy systems at the stroke of a pen – simply by increasing the supply limits for exempt generators/suppliers so that they are not burdened with centralised losses and use of system charges that unnecessarily increases the cost of green energy and which they are not making use of in any event. This will increase the value of green energy and put it on a competitive footing with brown energy by taking away all those unnecessary charges that are added to electricity supplied from embedded generation.

The current regulatory regime for exempt generators and suppliers should be changed to allow more customers to benefit from private wire systems. At the moment operators of stations as large as 100MW are exempt from generation licence requirements. However, of that 100MW only 1MW is allowed to be supplied to domestic customers on private wire per generation site and only 5MW (of which only 2.5MW can be supplied to domestic customers) in aggregate export over public wires for all of its sites together!



Although more fuel poor households could be provided with affordable energy this is prevented by this regulation. Given the interest in fuel poverty why has that limit been put in place? Is it because most of the profits of electricity companies are made in the domestic and SME sectors to make up for the very low cost dump electricity provided to power station base load customers in the energy intensive industries?

The exemption limits should be further relaxed to enable the Kyoto and Royal Commission targets to be achieved. A lot of the extra money needed to stimulate renewables and CHP could be found by relaxing the exemption criteria and allowing local generators/suppliers to supply more electricity direct to local customers. Focus could then turn to bringing the Hydrogen Economy forward.

In environmental and sustainability terms the more island generation and local discrete (‘private wire’) networks that you have interconnected to each other the more a borough like Woking becomes sustainable in energy and if other towns and cities did the same thing there would be no need for large centralised power stations and a very high voltage national grid system because this would be replaced by a network of local embedded generation systems on local island networks interconnected to each other throughout the country.



The future grid would be very much different than the one we know today operating on much lower voltage local island generation networks overlapping with other local island generation networks and so on.

Hydrogen will be the energy carrier of the future, deriving its energy from renewable fuels such as biomass, biogas, solar, wind, hydro (via electrolysers), etc. Fuel cells and the Hydrogen Economy are important, as used in conjunction with renewable fuels, is the only technology/fuel that can meet the UK’s electricity, thermal and transport energy needs from renewable sources. Even if the long term environmental impact of nuclear waste is ignored, nuclear energy can only address the UK’s electricity needs not the UK’s thermal and transport energy needs. Only fuel cells and hydrogen can deliver all three of the UK’s primary energy needs. If Government looked at this issue in an innovative way as Woking have done then it would see that the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution CO2 reduction targets could be met as well as setting the foundation for a sustainable energy future. The barriers to this are not technical but regulatory and vested interest.

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