‘Flexibility could cut UK energy costs by £10bn a year’

Plan released today by the government and Ofgem identifies pumped hydro, CAES and power-to-H2 as key techs [Image: Ofgem]

Smart flexibility technologies, such as long duration storage, will potentially cut costs of managing the UK energy system by up to £10bn a year by 2050, according to the government.

In the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan, the UK Government and Ofgem are “driving forward” plans for innovative new systems that could allow electricity generated by clean renewable sources to be stored at large scale and over longer periods, so it is ready to meet the challenges of energy system decarbonisation.

Enabling the full potential of smart systems and flexibility in the UK energy sector could also generate up to 10,000 jobs for system installers, electricians, data scientists and engineers, the document said.
Such technologies include pumped hydro storage, compressed air energy storage and the conversion of power to hydrogen so it can be used to generate electricity.

In addition, the plan looks at how electricity interconnectors with other countries can help balance the system and decarbonise at least cost.

Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brearley (pictured) said: “This plan is essential to hitting the UK’s net zero climate goal while keeping energy bills affordable for everyone.

“It requires a revolution in how and when we use electricity and will allow millions of electric cars, smart appliances and other new green technologies to digitally connect to the energy system.

“As energy regulator, Ofgem will work with government and industry, to help consumers make the changes needed and ensure the transition to net zero is affordable, fair and inclusive for all.”

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SSE Renewables managing director Jim Smith said: “Reaching net zero will require new long-duration storage technologies that will enable the UK to decarbonise faster and at a lower cost to consumers by maximising the use of renewable energy.

“We welcome today’s publication of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan update by BEIS and Ofgem which recognises the vital role that long-duration storage technologies, such as pumped storage hydropower, can have and sets out a further Call for Evidence on how to bring investment forward.”

Commenting on the document Antony Skinner, energy partner at law firm Ashurst, said: “Battery storage is a key component of an energy mix that will have a high proportion of intermittent renewable energy and while some steps have already been taking to facilitate battery storage, more needs to be done to ensure that such projects have access to a reliable revenue stream, so the Government’s recognition of this fact is very welcome.”

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