Energy networks

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Concerns have been raised over the deliberate wasting of energy to provide flexibility after load banks – devices for creating dummy loads to test power supplies such as backup generators – were accepted into an ad hoc service to increase demand on the power grid. The load banks were entered into the Optional Downward Flexibility Management service introduced by National Grid Electricity System Operator as an emergency measure to deal with low demand on the power grid over the summer of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Ofgem has paused its plans to expose smaller distributed generators to forward-looking transmission network charges after receiving opposition from a “large majority” of the respondents to its consultation on the proposals. However, the regulator said it continues to hold the view that “smaller generators should pay charges equivalent to larger generators where they have an equivalent impact on the network.”
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One of the backers of a controversial plan for a new interconnector between France and the UK has threatened legal action within weeks against Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision to block the project. Alexander Temerko, an ex-head of Russian oil company Yukos and director of Aquind since 2016, also threatened legal action against trade minister Penny Mordaunt, who has been one of the leaders of the campaign against the cable that would come ashore in Portsmouth in her capacity as a local MP.
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To achieve their ambitious decarbonisation targets, local authorities must get to grips with a complex and evolving energy system. But, as UK100 chief executive Polly Billington argues, the energy sector must also do its part in seeking to understand the needs and the capabilities of local government. She talks to Lucinda Dann about how the sector is doing so far and why local area energy planning must happen with councils, rather than to them.
Interviews
Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said networks’ response to storm must improve, describing power cuts of longer than three days as “unacceptable.” Appearing before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee to answer questions about November’s Storm Arwen, which left some households without power for more than a week, the minister also rejected a suggestion that networks’ resilience to such events should have been stress tested by Ofgem.
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The Energy Networks Associations has set out its plans for its Open Networks project in 2022, which will continue to focus on heavily standardising and coordinating flexibility services. The ENA said the industry initiative, which was launched in 2017 to accelerate the transition to a smart, flexible energy system, has enabled the UK to establish “world leading” local flexibility markets, with contracts for more than 3GW of flexibility being made available for tender in Great Britain last year.
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Latest in Energy networks

The best way to cut UK energy bills would be to make the US sell its cheap shale gas on the global market, former energy minister Chris Huhne is arguing.
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Local authorities can bid for a £6 million pot to develop low carbon district heating and cooling networks, climate change minister Greg Barker announced on Friday.
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Smart grids are needed to keep energy costs down, a senior Liberal Democrat MP said at the party's conference in Glasgow.
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SSE Power Distribution is expecting to connect 14.5GW of solar PV and low carbon generation capacity to the grid by 2023, its latest business plan reveals.
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Growers in West Sussex are crying out for utilities to help them minimise problems caused by fluctuating energy prices and access to water supplies. Kathy Oxtoby finds out more, in the latest in an occasional series on big customers
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