The UK energy system should be more actively managed at a local level and storage should be deployed at scale as soon as possible, the Energy and Climate Change Committee says.
Operation of the energy system should be transferred from National Grid to an Independent System Operator at the national level and Distribution System Operators at the regional level, according to the committee's report on low carbon network infrastructure, released today.
"Local energy is here, with astonishing growth in generation connected directly to regional networks. Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) remain somewhat blind to their energy flows and passive in managing them. DNOs must transition to a more active role as Distribution System Operators so that they can use smart technologies to manage ever-more complicated energy flows," said Angus Brendan MacNeil, chair of the committee.
Tools to balance variable energy sources include new technologies such as energy storage and demand side response (DNS), but they have been held back by legislative and regulatory inertia, the committee says. It called on the government to address urgently the archaic regulation and unfair "double-charging" that hinder the deployment of storage.
The MPs have also found that small-scale generators faced long and uncertain queues to connect to the grid and recommended a review of connection costs.
"The UK needs clean, renewable power, but it won’t be built if it's too costly or difficult for generators to connect to the electricity grid," the committee chair said.
The committee further called on the government to set indicative targets for biomethane and hydrogen deployment in the gas grid and establish a regulatory framework to encourage investment in district heating.
Commenting on the report, Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA) said: "The grid network has become an important part of the picture for renewables and is a major block on development in some areas, this will become increasingly so in the future as we move to subsidy free projects. We are pleased that the committee agree with our members that reforms are needed to the grid connection system, that the gas grid must accommodate new clean fuels and that energy storage, while offering great potential, needs to be freed from elements of regulation."
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