Future energy landscape topic of National Grid event

21 July 2015

“Who will keep the lights on is becoming a more complex question when you look at the UK’s future energy landscape.” commented Professor David Elmes of Warwick Business School at the launch of National Grid’s 2015 Future Energy Scenarios. 

National Grid combines the role of international electricity and gas company with being the UK’s system operator and so leads the development of a set of scenarios for the future of UK energy each year (http://fes.nationalgrid.com/). 

“Scenarios are a valuable way of considering possible futures in areas where long term investment decisions need to be made involving business, government and society at large.  It’s good to see National Grid leading that discussion for UK power,” added Professor Elmes.

“UK energy has typically relied on large fossil fuel power stations feeding into the existing grid and network systems.  Now we have more renewables that range from large offshore wind farms to a solar panel on your roof meaning more opportunities for energy to be supplied and used more locally – small scale generation might reach 40% of UK power supplies.  

"To reduce the greenhouse gases emitted the scenarios include more heat pumps in homes and greater use of hybrid electric vehicles.  It’s good we have these choices but who will be the companies that will make it happen?” 

Professor Elmes joined a cross-industry panel with Cordi O’Hara of National Grid, Dan Monzani of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Rhian Kelly of the Confederation of British Industry and Nigel Cornwall of Cornwall Energy. 

“Underneath the different views of the future that the National Grid Scenarios represent lies a potential shift in the who’s who of UK energy," said Professor Elmes.  

"In one corner we have those who see a continued focus on large scale solutions: large new power stations such as the planned new generation of nuclear power, large offshore wind farms, more connections linking the UK with other part of Europe, for example.  In the other corner we have more energy produced and consumed locally: PV or heat pumps in homes, community or municipal energy projects and heat networks, for example.  The future will be a mix but not the same mix as today.” 

Professor of Practice David Elmes

Professor Elmes is part of the i-Stute research programme into future heating and cooling in the UK, funded by the UK Research Council’s £30M programme to increase our understanding of energy end use and demand (http://www.i-stute.org/). 

The programme researches what improvements in efficiency and affordability are possible through next generation technologies in areas such as heat pumps. 

It also looks into how such technologies can make attractive choices for consumers and commercially successful businesses for companies. 

Professor Elmes added: “One view National Grid have of the future suggests that a high amount of local or distributed energy means the amount of power transmitted across the country drops to such low levels in the summer that there are concerns about running the network effectively.

"That means we might have two challenges in the future: the challenge of meeting demand in the winter and also the challenge of maintaining effective supply in the summer.   But that’s a change in our supply and use of energy that we need to consider – what is interesting is how all the consumers and companies can work together in different ways from the somewhat centrally managed way of the past.”

David Elmes teaches modules including Energy Trading and Risk Management, Financing of Energy Assets and Management in the Global Energy Industry on the Global Energy MBA.

He also teaches Business, Politics, Society and Behaviour on the Full-time MBA.

Imagery courtesy: National Grid

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