Digitalisation will enable true visibility of power system, shadow energy secretary claims

The debate over generation capacity is increasingly ‘fictitious’ because the national grid is not set up to monitor small scale renewable devices, Labour’s energy spokesman has said.

Alan Whitehead told an event on the digitilisation of the energy system at the House of Commons yesterday (November 7) that the grid currently had ‘no visibility’ of electricity coming into its system from plant with a generating capacity of less than 200 MW. 

Ofgem said in its state of the energy market report last week that the cost of balancing the market in order to ensure secure electricity supply, had increased by £250m to £1.15bn in 2016/17.

 Whitehead said: “This causes us to have increasingly fictitious debates over whether we have sufficient capacity in the market, that the lights are going to go out and if we need to build lots of new gas fired stations.

“A lot of electricity going into the system is not spotted and is not being accounted for. Digitilisation will enable that visibility of the system as a whole.”

He said that greater digitilisation of the energy system would enable the value of low carbon generation, such as rooftop solar installations, to be more effectively recognised within the wider energy system.

“What is going into the system could be recognised as an alternative to strengthening the system.”

Claire Maugham, Director of Policy at Smart Energy GB, defended the decision to push ahead with the deployment of SMETS 1 devices which are less inter-operable than the more sophisticated SMETS 2, which are yet to be rolled out at scale.

She said: “It would have been wonderful to have every meter installed in the second generation of smart meters straightaway. It would not have been the right choice because the people with smart meters installed have had overwhelmingly positive experience and have been saving money.

“The cost benefit equation would have changed significantly if we had waited for a subsequent iteration of the communications system.”

The event was held to gather evidence for the cross-party Vision10 investigation into shaping a low carbon industrial strategy for the UK.

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