Report outlines need for transformative change to respond to the challenges of the energy trilemma

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The Energy Systems Catapult and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) unveiled the findings of the Future Power System Architecture (FPSA) project at an event in central London.

The findings call on the power industry and government to focus urgently on delivering new capabilities to transform GB’s power system architecture by 2030- making it fit to respond to the challenges presented by the energy trilemma: decarbonisation; security of supply and; affordability.

The FPSA project was commissioned by the former Department of Energy and Climate Change, (whose portfolio is now part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), and undertaken through a collaboration between the Energy Systems Catapult and the IET. The collaboration builds on the work of the IET’s Power Networks Joint Vision group, which brought together experts and thought-leaders from the electricity industry to look at how to tackle the challenges facing the power system during a period of unprecedented change.

Dr Simon Harrison, Chair of the FPSA Project Delivery Board and the IET Energy Policy Panel said:

“The project has explored the functionality that the whole power system will need by 2030 to respond to a likely transformation in consumer needs and the way in which electricity supply and demand are balanced, and to the potential electrification of much of the energy we currently deliver to the point of end use as oil and gas fuels.”

Four principal conclusions were drawn based on the analysis undertaken and the robust body of evidence that supported it.

  • Thirty-five substantially new or extended functions will be required to meet government and power system objectives by 2030.
  • The new functionality has features that present substantial implementation challenges from technical, market and commercial perspectives.
  • It is feasible to deliver the changes required for 2030, but the scale and complexity warrant special focus and urgency.
  • An effective response will require new organisational and governance capabilities to establish and energise the whole-system approach necessary for transforming GB’s power system architecture.

Nick Winser, Chairman of the Energy Systems Catapult and Chair of the FPSA Joint Sponsors Board said:

“These are exciting times with the energy sector accommodating changes, such as home energy storage and distributed energy sources, all taking place at an unprecedented rate. If we are to respond positively to the challenges presented by the 21st century we need to rethink the way in which we balance competing needs around the energy agenda.

“Fundamental to our success is our ability to create the right conditions to support and implement truly innovative thinking, encourage meaningful conversations from across the sector and ensure that new services and techniques will work harmoniously across the power grid for the benefit of customers. The FPSA project represents just such an approach, which is why the Energy Systems Catapult believes the publication of this report is such an important step in designing an electricity system fit for our shared future.”

The report also makes six key recommendations, highlighting a need to:

  • Align power system architecture developments with major government policy commitments;
  • Create an implementation framework for delivery of the required functionality;
  • Deepen and extend the functional analysis through further elaboration and refinement of functional requirements;
  • Develop a transition pathway to ensure market mechanisms are maximised and government intervention minimised;
  • Extend the evaluation and identification of R&D and innovation requirements and;
  • Maintain the momentum developed in the FPSA project by formalising and supporting cross-industry and inter-agency working.

Dr Harrison continued:

“The conclusions are clear. We need to act now to create an industry where we are empowered by this transformation, and find new ways to work that release the value and possibilities the new technology brings for us. The FPSA Steering Group has agreed that there needs to be a staged approach to implementing the recommendations, with urgent actions identified for early progression.”

“The IET and the Energy Systems Catapult have brought together an incredible, visionary yet pragmatic team which it has been my privilege to lead. We have engaged widely with the industry, and have applied the techniques of systems engineering to view the whole electricity power system through an entirely new lens, something I have found personally challenging and highly insightful.”

The FPSA project findings and recommendations will assist industry professionals, ministers and officials to anticipate the necessary developments and to assess their significance when looking at the future power system. Find copy of the Full and Summary Reports from the Catapult FPSA page and theiet FPSA page.

Find out more about career opportunities with the Energy Systems Catapult.