National Infrastructure Commission: Electricity distribution network study, call for evidence

Energy Systems Catapult welcomes the opportunity to input into the National Infrastructure Commission’s electricity distribution networks study.

We’d like to highlight the following key points with regard to the NIC’s study:

  • Strategic planning is key to enabling investment in additional electricity network capacity in a timely manner and at the lowest possible cost. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here in terms of methodology – Local Area Energy Planning has been adopted by around 100 local authorities. The approach has the benefit of being led by local authorities – who have the democratic mandate to make strategic decisions that affect local people’s lives. What is required now is the support for local authorities – in the form of funding from Government and technical / delivery support from Regional Energy Strategic Planners – to ensure that every area has a high-quality LAEP.
  • Flexibility is the other key dimension of enabling the electrification of heat and transport at the lowest system cost. The procurement of flexibility at the distribution level is in its infancy compared to the transmission level – both in terms of scale and maturity of the markets. A priority area for further research is the respective roles of network tariffs and flexibility markets (including direct procurement by distribution network operators), to develop a vision for the kind of arrangements that should be in place by the early-2030s.
  • The regulation of DNOs’ investments should focus on the system outcomes that such investments deliver (or fail to deliver). The current price control framework is overly focused on the “inputs”: how many lines are reinforced, how much flexibility is procured. The result is that different investments are made in silos, hindering opportunities for innovation and for genuine whole-systems solutions to emerge.

You can read Energy Systems Catapult’s response to the call for evidence below.

Read the response

National Infrastructure Commission: Electricity distribution network study, Call for evidence

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